Teen Ensemble Breaks New Ground

In Reston, Herndon shows, teens share perspectives on real life issues.


Top row, standing: Gabby Van Volkenburg, Rachel Thompson, Alina Zufall, Ian McConnell, Erica Glaser, Adam Levine, Allyson Demerlis, Alex Vagonis, Katie Rees and Charlotte DeWolfe; second row, sitting/kneeling: Mariam Zaidi, Savanna Salassi, Nia Casso, Kate Badgett and Talley Murphy.


Actors create a tableaux news story representing their hopes associated with Barack Obama being sworn in as president. From left, are : Ian McConnell, Erica Glaser, Allyson Demerlis, Gabby Van Volkenburg, Nia Casso, Talley Murphy, Rachel Thompson, Adam Levine, Mariam Zaidi, Alina Zufall, Katie Rees, Charlotte DeWolfe, and Savanna Salassi.


Allyson Demerlis and Charlotte DeWolfe improvise to develop material for their show.


Top row, standing: Gabby Van Volkenburg, Rachel Thompson, Alina Zufall, Erica Glaser, Alex Vagonis, Adam Levine, Ian McConnell, Allyson Demerlis and Katie Rees; second row, sitting/kneeling: Mariam Zaidi, Nia Casso, Kate Badgett, Savanna Salassi, Talley Murphy and Charlotte DeWolfe; third row: directors Heide Zufall and Haley Murphy.

Fifteen area teenagers will perform in an ensemble combining acting, writing and dance in a performance March 29 at the JoAnn Rose Gallery at Lake Anne in Reston. A second performance is scheduled for April 19 at ArtSpace in Herndon. The performance will also air at a later date on Channel 10 – Fairfax Public Access. Sponsored by the Reston Community Players (RCP), the performance culminates months of a teen acting class based on issues and events relevant to the members of the class. Working as an ensemble, the group of 12 to 15-year-olds, has worked since November 2008 to bring their personal writings, monologues, dialogues and creative movements into a story collage. The group also plans to bring this performance to local schools and present it to their peers as part of an educational assembly.

"This performance represents a new paradigm in teen acting and theater," said Haley Murphy, ensemble director. "It tells their story in their own words, through a combination of original writing, acting and movement."

Working with choreographer Heide Zufall, Murphy and the performers used a creative process of combining the disciplines of theater and dance, using the techniques of improvisation, theater games and movement exploration. Material developed by the teen actors was created and used as the basis for the production. Murphy and Zufall provided the framework and direction to produce a unique performance voicing current teen’s thoughts.

"Themes such as social pressure, self-esteem, conflicts, fears, media and political influences, stress, were some of the issues addressed," said Zufall. "Working as an ensemble, the teens felt comfortable to express their very personal thoughts through this unique creative process."