For the first time in Algonquin College history, three media programs – performing arts, scriptwriting and television broadcasting – have collaborated to host the first two of three segments of Hothouse events.
In previous years the Hothouse workshops were held in person, but this year it was live-streamed on Feb. 22 and Mar. 15 via the Algonquin Faculty of Arts, Media and Design’s YouTube channel.
The stream featured eight students and five actors, with many others working diligently behind the scenes to assure the show would go on.
The concept behind hothouse is to provide scriptwriting students with an opportunity to have their 10-minute scripts performed in front of a live audience.
Hothouse is an opportunity to foster a “greenhouse-like” environment for the students to learn and grow, said Hannah Gibson-Fraser, the artistic director.
“These events are important because they provide a nurturing environment for students to gain valuable feedback and constructive criticism,” Gibson-Fraser said.
The project is assigned in the fall term so the students have adequate time to make adjustments and edits before showtime.
“It’s a very challenging format, but we often get some very good work out of it,” said Laurie Fyffe, the scriptwriting professor who assigns the project as the group’s first major writing assignment.
Cassie-Hope Aubin, a scriptwriting student and playwright of Tag You’re It, says that her overall experience with the project has been positive despite the restrictions that the pandemic has put on live performance.
“It was wonderful to get to see the process from paper to stage,” Aubin said. “Even if it was a virtual stage.”
“I think the event went really well because everyone worked so hard to pull everything together under some unusual circumstances, and it really paid off in the end,” said Aubin.
Despite some technical glitches, Gibson-Fraser described the night as a success.
“It’s challenging performing to an audience you can’t see,” Gibson-Fraser said. “So I brought in some actors who are more familiar working on camera to allow for a smoother comfort of performance.”
Graduates of the performing arts program, Kaeli-Rose Rittwage (Rozalea Red) and Xander Benoit (XanZ Storm), who are now Twitch streamers, say their virtual hothouse experience differed from the in-person version they performed last year.
“I’ve been performing my whole life so it’s natural to me,” said Rittwage. “It was a completely different experience with all the technical aspects and acting with people through Zoom.”
Benoit described the performing arts program as the best thing to ever happen to him and said he’s found his passion in performance.
“It’s fun to see the variety of plays that people write, and to see the different creativity that comes from different people,” Benoit said.
Benoit’s favourite scene of the night happened during the last play of the night called Dead Crowd starring Vincent Valentino and himself.
“It was so much fun to work with him,” said Benoit. “It was really funny, and I love comedy stuff. It’s nice when scripts can make you laugh, and that one really did it for me.”
Upcoming there will be one more hothouse event taking place on March 29 at 7 p.m.