By Olivia Tritschler
At graduation the theater group bid farewell to four veterans in school productions. Sophomores to seniors were given the chance to show off their talent.
On Monday Sept. 20, the new cast and crew was selected for the fall Virginia Theater Association (VTA) play, The Dark Lady of the Sonnets by George Bernard Shaw.

The Dark Lady of the Sonnets is a fictional story of how William Shakespeare met Queen Elizabeth I. The first performance occurred in 1910 at a fund raising event for the National Theatre of England.

“I have tried to raise the level of challenge in the literature we perform each year and it has paid off,” theater teacher Daryl Phillips said. “The students have met the challenge and done very well.”

From the first practice held on Tuesday, Sept. 21 to the Halloween weekend in Oct., the six-member team will spend two hours on stage after school perfecting the play each day. This poses a difficult challenge with school and practice.

“Practice times are generally every day for a few hours,” sophomore Samantha Jennings said. “At this point, I don’t work so I am able to juggle homework with practice. It is really important though to maintain good grades. That is a top priority for me.”

Junior Gerald Jackson and sophomore Matthew Squires play the Man and the Beefeater respectively. Jennings and senior Rachel Karns-Gall play the Dark Lady and Queen Elizabeth respectively.

With a young cast and a difficult Shakespearian play, a hundred percent effort is necessary in all practices.

“For the cast, we have a fairly new group of students,” senior Aidan O’Hare said. “This will definitely be a growing experience for everyone. It is going to be challenging, but it will only make each actor stronger.”

Filling the shoes of past theater students seems to be a difficult task in the eyes of the four main characters. Previous experience in other plays and theater classes help these individuals through tough lines and tricky scenes.

“I have trained for theater for the last seven years and I thoroughly enjoy it,” Jennings said. “All of the training has brought me to this point and I love the challenge. I will continue to grow as an actress in the art that I love.”

A strong show is only as powerful as its back stage crew. The students who make the play run smoothly might not always get the recognition they deserve. Without this crew back stage and working to control the sound and light systems, the show could not go on.

“I set the lighting for the show for each scene and during performances I perform the lighting cues, which is changing the way the lights look for each scene,” O’Hare said. “I am also stage manager, which is really just a title that makes me sound official and important. Light board operator is my main job.”

A theatrical team is like a sports team. They create new friendships that help them through all the ups and downs, wins and losses.

“I am friends with everyone that was cast,” Jennings said. “I think it would be much harder to work with people I don’t know because I wouldn’t have the history with everybody and I wouldn’t really know them.

Last year the play Eleemosynary placed in the top ten out of a total fifty plays who participated. The cast also won a cast ensemble and alumna Meaghan O’Hare won an actor’s award. This year’s cast has high expectations to live up to.

“My expectations for this year are for us to go in as well prepared as possible so that we can build on the success we had last year,” Phillips said. “The qualities I look for in picking any cast are in talent, commitment, good team player skills, and a sense of humor. They need to focus on what we have created and attack and have fun.”

All the hard work and practice will pay off when the final production of The Dark Lady of the Sonnets hits the school stage in Oct. during school hours. The play will also be performed in Reston, Virginia, for the VTA competition. This weekend spent with other schools and theater students is a unique experience for everyone.

“VTA is one of the highlights of my year. I always look forward to it because of the talented and interesting people who take part in it,” O’Hare said. “The theatrical environment at the competition has the power to inspire, everyone there is so complimentary. There isn’t even a hint of competitiveness, everyone loves everyone because we all love theater.”

11 COMMENTS

  1. I have a lot of respect for the backstage crew of any play. They put a lot of time into their work, and they do it well. The backstage crew really helps bring the show to life with lighting, sounds, and props. Without these, the audience probably wouldn’t know what was going on. I think they deserve a lot more recognition.

  2. Last year, the performance of Eleemosynary was fantastic and extremely hard to live up to for this year’s theatre team. I saw the performance of The Dark Lady of the Sonnets the other day, and the main problem with it was that the actors did not speak loudly and clearly enough. If they can improve on this, then I think that they will fare well at the competition.

  3. A lot of people who watch a theater performance don’t stop to think about the hours of practice neccessary. As someone who personally knows Samantha Jennings, one of the actresses, I could see how hard she worked over the past weeks to memorize her lines and prepare for the show. Their hard work will pay off in the end which is a good lesson for everyone!

  4. Kudos to everyone involved with the play. I saw it recently and I could tell a lot of time and effort was put in. I could never get up there and perform in front of a whole crowd of people. This article puts a well-earned focus on all of the hard working theater students.

  5. Being a former actor myself, I know of the extreme amount of effort to memorize lines. The audience does not realize the time and effort the performers put into it. If a play is bad, the audience can tell that the play was not practiced to full potential, but if the play was good, the audience takes for granted the hard work done by the performers.

  6. It will be interesting to see how well these new actors fare in competition since it is almost all fresh faces to the stage. Hopefully the actors hard work will pay off and they will do well in competition.

  7. The backstage crew gives alot of effort into the show and it was portrayed in the performance. I saw the play and it was hilarious! It had an odd mixure of elizabathian and modern time periods, however all together it was good. Great Job Everyone!

  8. The new actors are rising to the occasion. After watching the play twice, I saw that these new young actors are doing well, they have very crisp articulations on their lines. I like the spin they put on a Shakespeare classic.

  9. Unfortunately, I did not get to see the play, but I heard lots of good reviews about it. Being in theatre class, I’ve also heard lots of funny stories from when they went to competition. Rachel and Gerald are in my theatre class so I know that they are both great actors. Therefore, I can believe that the play was a success.

  10. I did not get to see this play, but I heard a lot of good things about it. The high school seems to put on pretty good plays and musicals so I’m sure this one was no different. Now that the infamous theatre group of 2010 has left, it will be interesting to see who will shine now.

  11. I truly appreciate the photos. It is good to see that recognition of another sport. The photos do not begin to describe the intensity the runners go through especially during indoor season. They practice in the cold. One thing is for sure the pictures capture their determination and heart they have for our school.

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