Thespian Society members should be able to vote on the shows the theater department puts on every year.
by Isabel Steinberg '19
A Thespian Society student is someone who has participated in at least two productions and has put in at least 100 hours of Thespian work. These students are very committed to the theater department, yet they have no say on what they perform. Every year the theater department puts on three productions: the play in the fall, the musical in the winter, and the student-directed One Act play festival in the spring. The students have a say in the performance of only one of the performances: One Acts. But the musical and play are picked by the theater teachers. While Mr. Bishop, Mr. Snipe, Ms. Liberman, and Mr. Lampasona do make good decisions on the productions, it would be beneficial to the students involved if they got a say.
Thespian Society Vice President, Zoé Contreras-Villalta ‘19, agrees that students should have a say. She thinks that if not the entire Thespian Society, then the presidents and vice presidents should be tuned in to the decision. She recalls when over the summer Mr. Bishop told her, Taliyah Emory-Muhammad ‘19, Matthew Sheets ‘19, and Lawson Karppi ‘19 that they were still deciding on the shows, but he did not tell them the options. Zoé and Taliyah both work backstage, Lawson is a pit-band member, and Matthew is an actor. Between the four of them and the teachers, a decision that took into account their opinions would have been well-rounded.
This year the Thespian Society attempted two plays for the fall production. This was a complicated feat for everyone involved. The actors had to figure out how to change the mood of the theater between productions. The stage managers had to each pick one show to manage; this was complicated with the rehearsal schedule and the nature of the shows. Then, the set designers had to accommodate two shows with one set. While the play did go off without a hitch, and was a spectacular production, some participants think it was not worth the trouble.
Secondly, the musical this year is Titanic: The Musical. This dark musical is jarring for the students involved and the audiences. Some argue that it is a powerful testament to human folly, while others think that no one should be subjected to two hours of mimed pain and sadness. The musical ends with a scene where the survivors reflect on how they watched thousands of people die. Furthermore, this musical was a huge task. There is almost two and half solid hours of music between songs and underscored dialogue. The actors and pit-band members had to learn all of the music with limited time. But, even with all of this the musical will be fantastic (and everyone should come see it).
There is also an issue with people desiring to go see the plays and musicals. Sometimes, when the teachers pick plays, they do not consider, or judge incorrectly, what the students of the schools actually want to see or participate in. If the students had an opinion, more people might attend the productions. Furthermore, as experienced performers, members of the Thespian Society also know what kinds of shows high schoolers do and don’t want to participate in. This means that more students may audition and more students will be invested in the show if high schoolers’ opinions are considered.
That said, the theater department does a fantastic job managing the impressive task of choosing, directing, and organizing productions, and we commend them for it.