A play about Chicago mobsters, a trip to Scotland, a Theater Sports troop that competes against other schools — the list of activities for the Robinson Drama department is endless. Although they have much to accomplish, the students involved are excited about the year ahead.
First on their list this year is "The Sting," a play adapted from the 1973 movie, in which two con artists try to outsmart the mob. The performances are set to take place on Nov. 21, 22 and 23.
In preparation for the play, the department is in the beginning stages of rehearsals. Sets and costumes are being designed, and basic staging is underway. Practices take place five days a week from 2:30 until 5:30. "There's lot of behind the scenes work that gets done, and it takes organization and planning to get everything done without internally combusting. We have a handle on it, and it is going to be a great show," said senior Brittany Brewer.
According to drama teacher Chip Rome, "The Sting" was not originally his first choice for the fall production. Senior Ryan Haldeman suggested it, and Rome agreed after reading the script that Haldeman found. "This play is different from anything we have done recently. It is fun and has a lot of roles to cast," said Rome.
Haldeman will play the lead role of Johnny Hooker in the play. Rome claims no favoritism, saying, "He really was the best choice for the part." Seniors Alden Kendall, Russell Peavey and Emily Sandhaus will play the other lead roles. "I hope this will be a fun and entertaining play for the audience as well as the cast," said Haldeman.
"THE STING" will help prepare the drama department for their long-awaited trip to Scotland, which will take place from July 29 until Aug. 11. The drama department will travel to Scotland to take part in the American High School Theater Festival, one of the world's largest arts festivals. The trip was supposed to take place last summer, but was deferred a year because of the Fairfax County ban on international field trips. Now that they are finally able to go, the participants could not be more excited. "I'm looking forward to the Scotland trip because it will be a great opportunity for Robinson drama to learn about other cultures," said junior Maureen Rohn.
At the cost of $4,000 per person, the trip is no small expense. Over the past two years, the drama department has had silent auctions and countless car washes to raise money. They have sold everything from $5 discount cards for local merchants to book covers. Last summer, they held a drama camp for elementary school children. Their fundraising is far from over, and will continue this year with a haunted house for Halloween. The estimated cost for everyone to go is $130,000.
While in Scotland, the students will take part in four performances with eight other American high schools. They plan to watch the other shows that will be taking place, as "everything is a performance space," according to Rome. They also have planned sightseeing tours in London and the Scottish Highlands. "I am most looking forward to seeing the plays from other countries," said junior Cate Flanagan.
For senior Sandy Simpson, the trip to Scotland and the multitude of other drama activities are more than welcome. "Theater means the world to me," said Simpson. "I have been doing it since I was four, and it gives me a family since I don't have one. It is a place where I can make a fool of myself and no one will judge me."
Simpson, who has participated in Robinson Drama all four years of high school, is one of the most active members. She plans to go on the Scotland trip and will play Mrs. Lombard in "The Sting." Her role in the play is not limited to the stage, as she is in charge of tickets and tech, and helps with sound and set decoration. "Since I do acting and tech, I usually stay after school until 10, but I love the practices," said Simpson.
Simpson plans to pursue theater in college. She would like to study both acting and technical aspects of theater at either Muhlenburg or Shennandoah University.
IN ADDITION to working on play productions, Simpson is also the Theater Sports coordinator. Theater Sports is an improvisation competition between student "acteletes" much like the television show, "Whose Line is it Anyway?" It is a 20-year-old tradition of Robinson Drama.
Simpson considers her leadership role in Theater Sports one of the most enjoyable aspects of drama. "At rehearsals everyone goes insane," she said. "It is a wonderful part of drama, and the funniest thing you will ever see."
The Robinson Drama department may have an ambitious list of activities for the year, but they are looking forward to fulfilling their goals and enjoying the process. Most of the students involved could agree with Simpson when she said, "I look forward to theater because it is my one true home. Drama is forgetting to think."