Still high from their honors at the Arizona State Thespian Conference in November, Payson High School drama students are charged up for their upcoming one-act plays in January.
The department will debut four one-acts, “Bingo,” “Draper Caper,” “Sure Thing” and “Death Shade,” on Thursday, Jan. 21 with performances running three nights.
Parental discretion is advised for “Death Shade” and “Sure Thing” for language.
Senior Amber Clark, who will make her first directorial presentation of “Death Shade” by Vern Harden, said she is excited to be on the other side of the stage directing. Like a true director, at a recent run through, Clark multitasked three actors running through their lines, while speaking with the Roundup.
After going through piles of scripts, Clark decided on the “Death Shade” because of its solid plot. In the play, an elderly man decides he wants to die because he has outlived his family, but changes his mind after meeting a terminally ill young woman. The interaction between the two gives him hope to carry on.
Although the play is only 20 minutes long, the play’s three actors, Audrie Bott, Eryk Stradling and Julia Legassie had to learn at least 60 lines each by Dec. 14. If they forget a line, they rely on ad lib skills to fill in any holes.
“Watching them is hard sometimes because I want to do it,” Clark said, “but it is a lot of fun to direct.”
While the actors practiced, Clark had to interrupt several times to give them direction and tell them to stop laughing (this is a drama after all).
Bott, who directed a one-act play earlier in the year, can relate to Clark’s frustration. It took weeks of practice before Bott could present the “Sure Thing” by David Ives. However, all of the hard work paid off. Bott received three superior markings at the state competition for the play.
“It is really rare to get three superiors,” said teacher Kathy Siler.
Bott said everyone involved with the production worked hard for its success. Students stayed after school to practice and even came in during break.
“She (Bott) had a vision and followed it through,” Siler said. “It is hard for a young director to have a scope of the whole thing and they need to have a view of the whole project — Bott has that innately.”
Bott said she plans to take the management and acting skill she learned in high school acting class with her to college, where she would like to become a registered nurse.
“What you learn in acting is not the same thing you learn in regular high school,” Bott said.
You learn about deadlines, passion and ultimately how to fake it, she said.
Legassie added theater teaches you how to interact with everyone, not just the people you like.
Volunteer Thomas Walling is the artistic director and Siler is the supervising technical director for the one-act plays. Senior Brett Goodwin is the technical director for “Draper Caper” and senior Melissa Shepard is the director for “Sure Thing” and “Bingo.”
Recently, the PHS Thespian Society was recognized for its superb interpersonal skills.
At the Nov. 20-21 state conference, the group received the spirit staff, an award that is handed out to the troupe with the most enthusiastic, helpful and engaged students at conference and summer leadership camp.
“We really wanted to get it because we have never taken it,” Legassie said. “It is a real honor.”
The staff is topped with shoes, clothes and memorabilia representing past troupes that received it. PHS drama students are still trying to decide what they will add to the staff before they give it back at leadership camp this summer in Heber.
The PHS Thespian Society also brought home a gold level troupe plaque for the 14th year in a row.