Imagine having the opportunity to become the most interesting person in history. Imagine transforming yourself, physically and mentally, in order to enter into this person’s mind and to live as he or she did. Imagine trying to intimately convey this person’s life, mind and character — and with it a powerful message about human will — to an audience in just thirty minutes. Every April, students in Yorktown’s Theatre IV class have an opportunity to realize these thoughts through a One Person Show. After six months of preparation and four years of training, One Person Shows are the ultimate final exam, and mark a bittersweet moment of ‘auld lang syne’ for many graduating students for whom their One Person Shows will be their last. The first and most prosaic question these students ask themselves? “Who do I choose?”
Theatre IV students begin their fourth year of theatre by choosing an individual whose life story appeals to them. Bob Marley, Franz Kafka, Peter Pan and Elvis Presley are just a few of the figures students have picked in the past. Many students choose famous people who have made a strong and definite impact on human history; whether the impact was positive or negative depends on the student’s characterization. Students also choose a message for their show, which sets the overall theme and mood. This choice is a great challenge for most student actors: as all Theatre IV have found while creating their One Person Shows, it is a daunting task to communicate a message while still preserving an engrossing plot and theatrical elements.
But regardless of the difficulties, the dedication of the students to their pieces is clear. After working towards a single performance for so many months, students inevitably take ownership of their shows, ownership that spurs meticulous tweaking, obsessive rehearsal and the occasional introspective revelation. The amount of work that students put into their One Person Shows is astounding, and the Shows have become renowned throughout Yorktown for that reason.
One Person Shows are performed in the black box. The room is cozy and warm, no doubt due to the mass of students, teachers, administrators and a few very proud parents who fill it to capacity. The room is loud and chaotic, like any room that is filled with high-schoolers might be, but when music is cued and lights go out, it silences immediately. It’s time for one actor to stand before an audience of one hundred and make the room hers. She does, and it’s a marvel to watch.
Theatre IV’s One Person Shows will take place from April 17-28 in room 23 (the black box) at Yorktown High School. For schedule information, call 703-228-5414 or visit www.yhstheatre.org.