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For Area Students, the Play's the Thing

Local drama clubs bump it up a notch for the 2008 Shakespeare Festival.

Posted: February 27, 2008 3:30 p.m.
Updated: April 29, 2008 5:02 a.m.
 
Just minutes into my first high school drama experience I bore witness to a balloon-breasted, high-pitched, teenage boy confessing his love through a human wall.

Ah, the melodrama of Shakespeare at its height. During the two-day Shakespeare Festival Friday at the Hart High School auditorium and Saturday at College of the Canyons Performing Arts Center, students from every school in the district competed in a variety of scenes ranging from the comedic to the psychologically provocative.

On Friday, students performed four-minute monologues and duologues from classical Shakespeare and contemporary plays. Saturday was reserved for ten-minute group scenes categorized into Shakespeare comedies or tragedies as well as contemporary scenes. For the Hart High School drama program, last year's performance at the festival was definitely outweighed by the enthusiasm shown by the 2008 group. Hart sophomore Natalie Rankin had only one goal heading into the festival.

"I just wanted to do better than last year, which wasn't that great because we only had two scenes prepared going in, despite the fact that there were so many genres," Rankin said. "This year we had six scenes, which was a big step. I wasn't expecting us to win since a lot of us were new, but I just wanted to do better than last year."

In order to improve, Rankin said the Hart drama club practiced several hours a week, taking the time to understand the importance of each role to the entire scene.

"It would take us a few days and even weeks to read the play and understand each character, in addition to their backgrounds," said Rankin, who played Queen Anne in a dramatic scene from Shakespeare's "Richard II. "We had to be at rehearsals so that we knew where we were going with the characters on stage."

Additionally, Rankin played the part of Evy in a duologue from "The Gingerbread Lady" by Neil Simon.
While there were hours of practice in the drama room, Rankin said some of the most intense rehearsals were spent in individual practice time.

Junior Amanda McWorter, who played Miranda in "The Tempest," believed that the time and effort everyone put in outside of rehearsals contributed to quality of their performance this past weekend. McWorter also performed two monologues and a duologue with fellow junior Matt Van Der Velde.
"I spent a lot of time reviewing and looking at each individual line in order to focus on what my motive was in each specific part of the scene which really helped me," McWorter said.

Despite the dramatic and competitive atmosphere inside the auditorium, this year's festival allowed students from each school's program to interact with each other and glimpse the performances of their peers.

"The other schools in the district are incredible at everything and I thought we did a really good job against them," McWorter said. "I always look forward to this competition because everyone in theater is crazy and insane, but I love them all. They're pretty much like my other family and I look forward to being with them at this competition for a really long time."

"I admire people who can be funny because there are always funny things in life, but when you can interpret it on stage, it's really cool," Rankin said. "There was one scene (performed by students) from Canyon High School, "Controlling Interests," by Wayne Wally that I admired because of how much time they put into it - the scene just seemed so natural."

"Controlling Interests," took second place in the Contemporary category. While Hart may not have won awards at this year's festival, the students said the feeling of being onstage and acting in front of an interested audience allowed them to flourish under the spotlight.

"For me, just being on stage is really cool because you're outside of your own reality," Rankin said. "No matter what's going on in your life, when you're on stage you take on another character's personality and mind. For me its like a high and I believe that I can do whatever I want when I'm on stage."

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