When Mélanie Dubois arrived at Humber Lakeshore campus in September to begin her Event Management postgraduate program, she was immediately inspired to create a special event. “I noticed this beautiful theatre called Assembly Hall, and realized there were theatre students studying right here on this campus,” she says. “I knew then I had the ingredients for a festival, and just had to put it together.”

After months of planning, Dubois’ vision has come to life: The Act Fast Theatre Festival begins Friday, Feb. 8 at 8 p.m. – when directors, writers, and performers assemble in teams to create five pieces of theatre from scratch. They’ll have exactly one day until the curtain goes up at Assembly Hall at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 9, to present their creative visions.

Melanie Dubois
Mélanie Dubois

Dubois approached program coordinator Rossie Kadiyska for advice regarding funding and budgeting for the festival back in the fall, and Kadiyska was immediately on board.

“Mélanie’s enthusiasm is infectious,” she says. Kadiyska reached out to the Humber community to get support for the project, and says the response was overwhelming. “There have been so many people at Humber eager to connect,” Kadiyska says. “Everyone has said, ‘how can I help?’”

Faculty immediately saw the opportunity for experiential learning and real-world application of classroom material. Students from Event Management, Theatre Arts - Production, Journalism and Media Studies will participate in the festival, and serve as mentors to local high school performers.

The Humber College Community Partnership Fund is supporting the project. Community partner Lakeshore Arts will assist with recruiting high school performers and promotion, and will receive a portion of ticket revenue to purchase supplies.

Regent Park Focus Youth Arts and Media Centre will provide students to help document the event during the technical rehearsal by conducting interviews and shooting video. “We create it all in one day, but that’s hard to believe,” Dubois laughs. “The video will really help show that process.”

Dubois has been involved with similar one-day programs since high school, and brought the idea to her undergraduate theatre program. She hopes to bring a polished version of the event back to her hometown theatre community in the future.

She is excited about the collaboration and creativity involved in the event. “It’s one night only – you get different participants, different plays – you really have to be there,” she says. “I love all of it. At 8 p.m. on Friday, when people are facing that blank page.” Dubois will host the event, after overseeing the entire creative process. “Seeing everyone come together to create things – I’m so excited to see what they want to say and how they’re going to say it,” she says. Act Fast Theatre Festival tickets are $5. To purchase, visit actfastfestival.com.