Payson High School drama students earned their first “outstanding” rating ever at the 2002 Arizona State Thespian Conference held recently at North Canyon High School in Paradise Valley.
“We’ve received outstandings at other competitions, but it’s very difficult to earn a superior at state conference,” drama assistant Kathy Siler said. “I think it’s because so many theater people are doing the judging.”
The PHS students earned their rating with “Fear,” a one-act play by Vern Harden about a character dealing with her fears.
“It’s about the fears within us that make us cowardly, that cause us to cave in on ourselves and others as well,” said drama teacher John Siler, who directed the production.
The play uses an old dramatic technique from the middle ages by employing a character who personifies fear.
“It was like the grim reaper character, and I wanted him to look like that,” Siler said.
The message of the play is the need to confront your fears to eliminate them.
“The main character, Kayla, ended up fearing her own weaknesses, and confronting your weaknesses is a very difficult thing to do,” Siler said. “It’s very risky, and if it’s beyond your capability then you have to learn to live with your fear.”
Cassie Carter played Kayla, while Andrew Steedman was Fear.
Other cast members included Sam Strothmann, Christina Culligan, Rebecca Stuart, Anita Meggitt, Elizabeth Goodale and Mick Stern.
Mick Stern served as stage manager for the production, and Elizabeth Goodale was his assistant. Shop foreman was John T. Campbell.
Seventy-four schools and 1,400 students participated in the conference. Siler attributed the outstanding rating to the emotions generated by both the play and the performers.
“It’s an incredibly strong show,” he said. “It just reaches out and grabs you and holds you in its grip for 20-25 minutes.”
“Fear” will be presented in Payson next spring as part of an evening of one-act plays, but a date has not yet been determined.