By Philippa Wolff
Twelve Dartmouth High School students are set to represent their school this week at the Canadian Improv Games in Ottawa.
The national tournament and festival, which runs from April 3 to 7, features 20 high school teams from across Canada. Dartmouth’s team, named the “Zinckernauts”, after their coach and drama teacher, David Zinck, will be facing off with teams from New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Ontario Friday night.
“The best part for me is that I’m going with all my best friends,” said Grade 12 student Kaylie McGraw. “This team, we are all pretty much good friends and we love each other very much. It’s just the icing on the cake that we get to play together in a national setting, which is amazing.”
Bad reputation undeserved
Becka Warren says she hopes the team’s success will prove Dartmouth High’s “bad reputation” wrong. In Warren’s experience, Dartmouth High is not well-respected in HRM.
“I’m just really proud that it’s Dartmouth High that’s representing Nova Scotia,” said Warren. “… If you go and you see what’s going on with the improv team and all the other teams and how we’re going and we’re representing Nova Scotia, you can’t really believe our bad reputation.”
To cover the costs of the trip, the team has hosted two fundraisers and toured on a daily basis to other schools in HRM for a little over a week. The Ottawa trip’s bill comes to around $7,000, says Zinck, who is also Student Council Advisor at Dartmouth High.
The team also hosted a game of Humans vs. Zombies, where students were let loose in the school for a game of cat-and-mouse with foam dart guns for $10 a game.
The fundraising has allowed for each Dartmouth High player heading to Ottawa to only pay a maximum of $200.
All this fundraising has meant a busy month for the team members, some of whom are in their final months of high school.
Justin Moir, a Grade 12 student, jokes that he “can’t actually remember what the inside of [his] house looks like.”
“It’s all for a good cause because this is going to be something monumental for all of us, I think. It’s, for me, the highlight of my high school career,” he said on a more serious note.
“No Maritime East Coast team has ever gotten to the finals of the Ottawa competition,” said Rebecca Wolfe, a grade 11 student. “So I really, really want to be able to do that.”
Zinck says Dartmouth High is in a good position to take that step. Friday, he says, is strategically the best position for a team to be in, as it is the final night in the four-night preliminary round.
“We’re in a great position, because we get to see what other teams are doing and then see how it scores,” he said. “Plus, we’re doing workshops. Plus, we’ll be rehearsing.”
He adds that being on Friday night will create a “pressure cooker” that may display the team’s “weird chemistry,” an attribute Zinck says was important to their win at regionals in February.
For Zinck, they will truly win if his team has fun. He says the hardest part, no matter what, will be seeing his graduating students play their last game of high school improv.
“You spend months preparing for 16 minutes on stage – four four-minute events,” he said. “So we’re talking a hundred hours of rehearsal for 16 minutes. Knowing that this is going to be the last 16 minutes that you’re going to see that strange chemistry, that magic happen with that group of individuals … is really, really hard.”
“I think we would all like to see that creature for 16 more minutes twice [in the preliminary round and in finals],” Zinck said. “The whole goal is to play twice and, uh, hopefully that’ll happen.”