Onstage at Yorktown High School, students can become inanimate objects while stages can grow jaws and come to life. Carol Cadby, Yorktown’s theater arts director, encourages students to develop abstract forms of expression. “Ms. Cadby will give us some crazy idea,” said Alyssa Lott, “But it always turns into something interesting.”
“It’s a creative mess of ideas that all boils down into our own thesis,” added student Grace Folsom. Those ideas will come together Saturday, Nov. 15, in Yorktown’s first Theater Arts Showcase at 7 p.m. in Yorktown’s auditorium at 5201 N. 28th St.
The production features six groups of vignettes highlighting independent student work ranging from classical theater to original abstract works and the set design and technical aspects that make it come together.
“I thought that it would be an educational tool,” said Cadby. “If you focus on the education, the kids will really appreciate what they do in class. And it gives them pride in what they do in class.”
All vignettes are student-directed; Cadby serves as producer and technical director. The project began with an assignment from Cadby earlier in the year: Each student was to develop his or her own interpretation of the saying, “when the cat’s away, the mice will play.”
Some students decided to take a literal approach, while others explored metaphor. Cadby selected the most coherent projects for the showcase.
FEATURED PERFORMANCES will include choral readings, sound symphonies, dances, and dramatic and comedic scenes. The range of genres highlights different methods of directing, acting and staging, Cadby said.
Students are currently rehearsing in class and after school for the student-directed showcase. “It’s going to be hard to pull it all together, but we’ll get there,” said Natalie Shutler, a second-year theater student.
Cadby is confident. “I wouldn’t do this kind of work with just any kids,” she said. First-year theater students undergo a more structured curriculum and will not have a hand in the showcase. Upper-level students have already received basic training to prepare them for the amount of creative freedom they use in developing the showcased vignettes, Cadby said.
“Ms. Cadby set up a curriculum so when we come in freshman year, that’s where we break out of our comfort zone,” said Jenna Allen.
Third and fourth-year drama students said the curriculum affects them off-stage as well. “I’m not as afraid now to put myself out there,” said Alicia Fisher.
“This kind of thing really opens your mind to a lot of new ideas, and you don’t get this anywhere else,” said Folsom.
THE SHOWCASE WILL also bring front and center students who usually work behind the scenes. Students from the Yorktown technical theater class will display their work, which includes costume design, makeup, lighting techniques and set design and construction.
“There are a lot of misconceptions, and people don’t really understand how much work goes into it,” said Ben Nardolilli, a senior theater tech student. That work encompasses a broad range of disciplines, from sewing to carpentry.
“You have to be really devoted and really serious about what you’re doing,” said Phoebe Bell, another Yorktown theater tech who focuses primarily on costume design. “It takes a lot of time.”
Technical work does take time, but it can make or break a dramatic production. Students learn through trial-and-error and can be making set and lighting changes up to the last minute. The process creates learning opportunities different from those in other classes, students say.
“It’s a manifestation of the fact that I love to do problem-solving and abstract design,” said Don Pomeroy, a senior tech student. “There’s no other class in the school that offers that. … It’s really a perversion of learning not to do that.”