Seniors Learn The Balance Of Directing A Play

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Payson High School drama students are bringing Rim Country audiences three senior-directed one-act plays: A serious drama about homelessness, a new take on Scrooge, and the mystery of the "Ha Ha House."

"The Blues," directed by Heather Buchanan, features an ensemble cast in a play about the homeless.

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Jared Johnson as Mark and Heather Horsley as Lynn in "The Blues," a play by Jerome McDonough, part of a series of one-act plays presented by the Advanced Acting class at Payson High School.

It earned the Advanced Acting class top honors at the recent state thespian conference.

"We also walked away from the conference with ‘Honor Troupe Status' for the tenth year in a row," said retired drama teacher, John Siler. Siler often assists his wife Kathy, the current drama teacher.

"We exceed the formula for excellence," he said. "No other troupe comes close."

The award is based on performance, interschool activities, community service, workshops such as those given by the Southwest Shakespeare Company, plus field trips to other performances.

Even though "The Blues" is not specifically about Christmas, its subject matter raised student awareness to the plight of the less fortunate in the United States.

PHS Drama: One Act Plays

When: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, 7:30 p.m. Thursday, 4 p.m. Friday and 7:30 p.m. Saturday

Where: In the Studio Theatre behind the Payson High School auditorium

Cost: $4/adults, $3/seniors and students

Note: All the plays are family-friendly but, in consideration of families who may bring younger children, the two lighter plays, "Carol A Christmas" and "Ha Ha House" will be performed first. "The Blues" will be performed after intermission. Each play is 20 to 30 minutes long.

Thespians recently collected nearly a ton -- 1,888 pounds -- of food, more than double what they collected last year, during their Thanksgiving and Christmas food drives. Next year, they plan to top that amount.

In consideration of parents with young children, the two lighter plays, "Ha Ha House" and "Carol A Christmas" will be performed in the first half of the show.

Carol Eben takes the place of character Ebenezer Scrooge in "Carol A Christmas," directed by Shay Larby.

"Ha Ha House," directed by Aubreigh Brunschwig, sets teens in a supposedly haunted mansion, seeking treasure and urban legends.

"Directing is harder than you might think," Brunschwig said.

Like the other student directors, she has discovered she must find a balance between assertiveness and tact when giving direction to her peers.

"I feel sorry for directors I have had in the past," she said. "I'm going to learn my lines a lot sooner from now on."

"We have student directors who are each responsible for one play. So, the real challenge this year lies in the actors who have roles in more than one play," Kathy Siler said. "But we have an incredible talent pool."

The Silers cast all 22 students in the Advanced Acting class in the three ensemble plays. Eighteen of those students have more than one role to learn.

Next up for the PHS drama department is the Spring production of "Treasure Island."

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