PEI

Lunchtime showcases give Holland College students chance to shine

Holland College students and staff have been shaking off their nerves and taking to the stage at the Florence Simmons Performance Hall in Charlottetown for free Thursday lunchtime showcases.

'This is such a rush — the feeling you get on stage''

'It's pretty awesome,' says 17-year-old student Anni-Yah Ferguson of the opportunity to perform in Holland College's free Thursday showcases. (Sara Fraser/CBC)

Holland College students and staff have been shaking off their nerves and taking to the stage at the Florence Simmons Performance Hall in Charlottetown for free Thursday lunchtime showcases. 

Every Thursday afternoon from 12:15 to 12:50 p.m., students, faculty and administrators have the chance to sing, dance, play an instrument or recite poetry to whomever wants to come. 

I just enjoy singing, so I thought I'd take a chance and get out there.— Marsha Wall, Holland College student

"It's pretty awesome. You get that opportunity to practice in front of an audience that you don't see every day," said Anni-Yah Ferguson, a first-year School of Performing Arts arts student.

The 17-year-old played one composition on the violin and accompanied herself on keyboards singing another — to a small but appreciative audience including several of her friends. 

'Still gives me butterflies'

"Every now and then I just like to show them, 'Hey! this is what I do,'" Ferguson said, noting it's a good reminder to herself that she's here for music. She'd like to compose music for people who suffer from anxiety and depression.

'it still gives me butterflies!' says Holland College student Anni-Yah Ferguson of performing. (Sara Fraser/CBC)

"I've been doing it [performing] since I was seven, but honestly it still gives me butterflies!" she said with a laugh. "This is such a rush — the feeling you get on stage, it really can't be compared to anything else. It's breathtaking."

'It's about … taking the chance'

The school started the free showcases last March, after the new performance hall was finished, as way to ensure students stage time.

"We thought, what a great way for people to have an opportunity — they don't have to be professionals — just to have a venue," Gaylene Carragher, the new director of the School of Performing Arts at Holland College. 

We want them to come in and wow us, and that's what they've been doing.— Gaylene Carragher, Holland College

"It's about students and faculty taking the chance, if it's not their area, and saying 'I think I'll try this,'" Carragher said, noting a computer instructor and a curriculum administrator have taken the stage in the past year. 

That's exactly what video game art and animation student Marsha Wall did Thursday, singing a couple of cover songs with a recorded background track. 

"I just enjoy singing, so I thought I'd take a chance and get out there," Wall said, admitting she was outside her comfort zone on stage. 

Holland College student Marsha Wall grabbed the chance to sing some cover songs at the noon showcase to build her confidence in front of crowds. (Sara Fraser/CBC)

The performance, she shared, will boost her confidence and be useful no matter what she does, because she can remind herself, "I've done this before, I've gotten on stage and sang in front of people — it's not so hard to go and do this other thing."

'Everybody should come'

An audience of 30 to 40 people usually gathers to listen and watch — some wouldn't miss it. 

"Everybody should come, and the community should come," said Paula MacInnis, who works in the admissions office across the street.

"We want them to come in and wow us, and that's what they've been doing," Carragher enthused.

Carragher noted student and CBC Searchlight contestant Anya Smith has performed several showcases, each time debuting a new original song.

"That is really quite an honour, and it's also so good for her because she's getting the reaction back, it's a safe environment for performers," she said. 

Holland College also has a free outdoor stage in their quad that students and staff can book any time.

About the Author

Sara Fraser

Web Journalist

Sara is a P.E.I. native who graduated from the University of King's College in Halifax. N.S., with a Bachelor of Journalism (Honours) degree. She's worked with CBC Radio and Television since 1988, moving to the CBC P.E.I. web team in 2015, focusing on weekend features. email sara.fraser@cbc.ca