On stage at the SFU Theatre March 29, SFU student Ally Baharoon presents his first theatrical production. He says that his aim is to “offer a cosmic view” of student life, and to explore the relationship students have with measures of intelligence.
The Examination is a dramedy featuring six main characters taking an exam: an imaginative dancer, a narcissistic sociopath, a self-righteous A+ student, an average student, and a confident snob, and the exam is presided over by a hyper-vigilant invigilator.
The play is presented in a single scene, focusing entirely on the revelations within an exam setting. Baharoon, a fourth-year English major, wrote, directed, and produced the play to loosely represent key moments in his life.
One experience that inspired him was when he recieved “the award for the best fourth grader in school back in Tanzania.” It was everything he wished for — until he actually got it. Baharoon realized at a young age just what a fleeting experience it can be to pin your entire happiness on external approval.
Another experience that left a lasting impression on him occured after he arrived 20 minutes late for an accounting quiz. Baharoon felt the pressure to perform by either accepting help from a neighboring student or taking the high road and answering honestly. “Why would this person give me his answers? Is there a particular value to this?” reflected Baharoon.
There is often pressure to either pass or fail, to “be a cheater or champion,” he continued. Ultimately, the goal for the play is to philosophically explore how we identify with the quest for knowledge. As students, Baharoon hopes we can “humour ourselves” and not compare ourselves to each other.
Baharooon’s vision for his first play does not stop on stage. The burgeoning director hopes the audience will share the experience with the characters by having them seated as if they were actually at an exam — on every other seat.
The last three years of planning for this play have been challenging for the soon-to-be graduate. However, he credits having come this far to “playing to people’s strengths, trusting the actors and receiving a lot of help from the SFU community.”
Through this collaborative project, Baharoon attempts to “diversify the entertainment here at SFU and show that there is a lot more going on.” Working with volunteer performers and other individuals who dedicated their free time to the production, he thrives in the beauty of community theatre.
As director, one of the things Baharoon has realized is that “when you have a vision of a character on a piece of paper and an actor portrays them differently, you learn to trust the process.”
SFU students can see the director’s debut come to life on stage near the end of the month, as The Examination is presented to the SFU community free of charge.
Visit shwanga.ca/the-examination to reserve your tickets to The Examination March 29.