Students from a Mississauga high school debut their self-produced play at the 2018 Toronto Fringe Festival

High school students from The Woodlands School in Mississauga— an aspiring live theatre troupe—are making their debut at the 2018 Toronto Fringe Festival.  They will be performing seven shows at the Helen Gardiner Phelan Playhouse July 4-15, 2018.

The play is called Fine China.  The 17-year-old Woodlands School student, Julie Phan, is Fine China’s writer and producer.  She is also the lead in the play, and is supported by 17-year-old Natalie Thai and 20-year old Nam Nguyen.  The play is directed by 18-year-old Colwyn Alletson.

The play follows the story of two sisters — Audrey, the golden child and Kim, the family disappointment. Bitter conflicts are revisited after the death of their father, as each sister calls into question the line between accepting traditional authority and pursuing independent aspirations.

Fine China takes a look at the experience of immigrant kids in Canada: being raised Chinese, being socialized into Western culture and the intergenerational family conflict that arises from colliding value systems.

“It’s based a lot in my relationship with my own family, particularly my relationship with my sister and father,” said Phan.

For Phan, performing at the Toronto Fringe Festival was a goal.  She began writing the play near the end of high school and wanted to showcase it at a festival “beyond the school level.”

Toronto Fringe was founded by a group of local indie artists in 1989, as “theatre by the people, for the people.”  Since then, the TO Festival has become the largest theatre festival in Ontario, showcasing 150+ productions every July at 30+ venues around downtown Toronto.

The festival’s mandate is to support performing artists.  It returns 100% of the net box office revenue to Fringe artists.

.The Woodlands Theatre Co. has been sharpening their acting chops for a few years now, participating in such youth programs as the Ontario Drama Festival, Tarragon Theatre Young Playwrights Unit, and Summerworks Festival.  But by self-producing Fine China, the Mississauga troupe’s four young creatives are taking a big step forward in their journey to becoming independent artists.