The Red & Black

Filed under Opinion

To Act or Not to Act

A proposition for equal opportunity

R.+Wilkins+in+Gateway+Playhouse+Production+of+Seussical+Jr.
R. Wilkins in Gateway Playhouse Production of Seussical Jr.

R. Wilkins in Gateway Playhouse Production of Seussical Jr.

Photo by Stella Wilkins

Photo by Stella Wilkins

R. Wilkins in Gateway Playhouse Production of Seussical Jr.

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To some, January means a fresh start. To others, midterm week. And for most seniors, one month closer to graduating. But for myself, and many of my peers, it means the last few weeks before opening night of the musical. It means hard work and rehearsals for the cast and pit while the crew is equally busy building sets. Especially during Tech Week, which includes ending the month with rehearsals every day until ungodly hours of the night. We consistently are at school for well over 12 hours during those last two weeks before opening night (February 8) running, tweaking, and perfecting. It takes dedication, hard work, and many sleepless nights doing school work, but we are all up to the challenge. And that is what makes Patchogue-Medford High School’s Musical productions so outstanding. So much goes into the production; far beyond what you witness at the four shows. The teachers do much more than what their job description calls for and the students put in hours upon hours of work. But more than that, it encompassees the work of multiple departments, not just the music department. English and art teachers get involved, and Mr. Butzke and his business students take advantage of the opportunity to produce, advertise, and raise money for the event.

That inclusiveness is exactly what makes the Pat-Med community so incredible, and it is with that inclusiveness in mind that I propose the production of a drama/comedy show. If the musical alone reaches so many students, teachers, and departments, and links them to the community, imagine what a drama or comedy production can do?

Musicals aren’t for everyone. I’m sure everyone can name at least one person in their own household who isn’t a fan, and there’s nothing wrong with that! There are plenty of students in our high school who love acting, or have always been interested in trying, but just don’t enjoy the singing aspect. As my theater classmate, and “Man on the Street” personality, Jonathan Ochoa said, “there are so many people in the school that I know would really enjoy it, especially if they were just given the push to do it”. When I brought up the idea of an additional production to my fellow pit members, they were really excited about the possibility. Abby Yoches in particular spoke up, saying “I would definitely love to participate, and I think it’s really important to have this program for those who are interested in acting in films and on T.V. rather than Broadway”. As a school dedicated to providing all of its students with an equal opportunity to succeed, we should be able to provide another type of performance.

There are so many people in the school that I know would really enjoy it, especially if they were just given the push to do it”

— Jonathan Ochoa

Multiple high schools on Long Island have two or three performances a year, (Connetquot in particular has three: a comedy, a musical, and a drama) and we used to be one of them. Alumnus Christine Boehm took part, as a freshman, in the last straight-play production at the high school and spoke very highly of the experience. She found it to be “lasting and beneficial” and was “really disheartened that it was only around for one year”. She also commented on the importance of a traditional theater background and history, the strength in an “honest and affecting performance” due to experience in different genres of writing, and the chance to explore the culture of other countries and continents beyond the scope provided by American musical theater; “A student pursuing Robotics could not be asked to build a contemporary and legitimate robot without an understanding of traditional mathematics and physics practices and theories”. The only reason we stopped the production was due to scheduling conflicts, and unfortunately, no one has successfully attempted to, or been able to, get it running again. But, now’s the time to try once more.

Producing a drama/comedy show would be nothing but beneficial. Again, it provides many students with the opportunity to perform, as well as involves multiple departments. The art and music departments would still be involved in regards to props and orchestration, but other classes as well, such as fashion design for costumes, and some of the English electives such as Lit to Film, Theater, Heroes and Villains, etc. for acting and directing opportunities. And as always, the business department has the chance to produce, manage, and advertise. The production doesn’t have to be as grand as the musical. It can be a small black box performance at first, a simple stand up comedy production, or, as suggested by Alex Torres and Megan Egan, an extension of the theater class.

After all the buildup to opening night, the musical is over in the blink of an eye and most of the students involved are left with a feeling of “okay…now what?”. Some join a sport, others take up more work hours, but some are still a bit lost. There’s still quite a bit of time between the end of the musical and AP Exams, Regents, and finals, and with the simplicity and proposed size, producing a drama or comedy in that time would be manageable, and would provide those who feel a bit lost with another opportunity to work and perform.

Producing a drama/comedy would provide a plethora of opportunities for the students, teachers, administrators, and community of Patchogue-Medford. It would bring people together to create something beautiful and different, while encouraging education to be met with excellence.

 

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