Saskatchewan Polytechnic students set the stage for Sweeney Todd
Eight Saskatchewan Polytechnic students enroled in the Carpentry Applied Certificate program have—literally—helped set the stage for the Saskatoon Summer Players upcoming production of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.
As the carpentry program head, Ryan Hooyenga thought the project would be the perfect fit for the students, because the requirements echoed the applied learning they were already building on in the classroom.
“The students learn about framing buildings and houses and this project incorporated floor framing, wall framing and stair building. It had different kinds of challenges and was a really unique project. It was directly applicable to what the students are learning.”
Multiple sets of stairs provided an opportunity for the students to stretch their skills and rise to the challenge. Carpentry Applied Certificate students typically learn basic stair building, says Hooyenga, “and this was a little more advanced, an instructor, Kurt Spizawka, worked with them to go above and beyond what they would normally learn. There were different (platform) levels, different stair heights and a different kind of stair construction process. That was a new challenge for the students.”
The students built the Sweeney Todd set to achieve building code, although typically a theatre set doesn’t require it. The set also had to be built in moveable sections and lightweight enough for a few people to move the sections around without heavy duty equipment.
“A project like this allows the students to look at different projects that seem complicated and enables them to break it into pieces and use problem-solving skills to figure out how it’s going to go together,” says Hooyenga. “This gives them a more realistic view of what construction is going to be like when they’re starting their careers.”
Anita Smith, general manager of the Saskatoon Summer Players, said the project was a win-win for her organization and Sask Polytech. “It is a big job to build an entire set for one of our shows. It can be a daunting and time-consuming task for our volunteers. By sharing the workload with the students at Sask Polytechnic, (the students) were able to get some experience and we were able to take some pressure off of our volunteers.”
The set construction project was built right into the students’ curriculum and took a week of class time to complete. “We would love to do something like this again in the future,” says Hooyenga. “Projects like this—that fit into our curriculum—can provide valuable extra experience for the students. They get to do things they normally wouldn’t get the chance to. It’s fantastic.”