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Serious topics challenge drama students at Cedars Christian School

Cedars Christian School drama club presents The Giver, a play about a dystopian society experiencing no feelings and seeing no colour.
Josh Bouwman, The Giver, right, talks to Koen Bailie who plays Jonas, in Cedars Christian School's production of The Giver.

It’s not an easy play.

Cedars Christian School drama teacher, Caroljoy Green, knows that but she also knows her experienced acting students have the chops to pull it off.

The Giver, written in 1993 by award-winning children’s author Lois Lowry, is a book that is a staple in high school English classes throughout the province.

The Giver is about a community that lives in a seemingly ideal world without conflict, poverty, injustice, or inequality, but that also includes no changes in climate, sees no colour and has no feelings.

Green said she knew she had something special when the drama students accepted the challenge of performing the dramatized version of the novel.

“The play rehearsals are going really well and I’m really excited about it,” Green said. “We’ve done Anne of Green Gables and It’s a Wonderful Life – a lot of light-hearted comedies and last year we did Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, which was also a departure for the kids but still a comedy. This year I wanted to do something a little different – this play is a little more thoughtful than our previous productions.”

The novel touches on safety and freedom in a community, Green said.

“And I thought that might be a really good choice for our world right now as we try to move ahead post Covid,” she added. “It required a lot of vulnerability on the part of the students but they have risen to the occasion and they’re really prepared.”

Grade 12 student Kate Bandstra plays The Mother who cares for Jonas, the main character,.

Bandstra was in the two past Cedars Christian’s productions and has participated in Speech Arts and Drama for at least six years where she explored a variety of different characters.

“She’s caring and very firm because she wants her two kids to be successful because that would reflect well on her,” Bandstra said. “She also cares about them being safe and being healthy and fitting in. She wants them to have something they can be proud of.”

Bandstra said taking on such a unique character was definitely a challenge, especially how firm The Mother is in the play.

“Over time I started to think of this character as someone who cares, she just doesn’t know how to show it because she’s not been taught because the community is not great at showing feelings for anyone,” Bandstra said.

Grade 12 student Josh Bouwman takes on the role of The Giver.

“My character’s job is to hold all the pain and knowledge and everything the society doesn’t really want to experience,” Bouwman said. “The Giver spends all of his time locked away in his book-filled house. He’s constantly reflecting on the short comings of the society and how he can make it better, knowing full well his community never wants to change as he waits for the society to assign someone else to take his pain from him. So he feels very lost.”

Bouwman had to find a way to portray a character who was conflicted between hope that he could finally be released from his burden and the knowledge that the burden he released would be passed to someone else.

“That was a challenge because in the past I did not have roles where the character was constantly sad,” Bouwman explained.

His most recent portrayals were that of a greedy businessman always scheming to get more and a lovesick character pining for his true love.

“So playing a character sitting in a chair trying to explain the concept of colour, for example, is just so different,” Bouwman said. “It’s been a really fun challenge.”

The Giver is presented at Lakewood Alliance Church, 4001 Fifth Ave., on Feb. 22, 23, 24. Doors open at 6:30, plays starts at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 each at

Because of the serious topics explored in the play, it is not suitable for young children.