POINT PLEASANT —Point Pleasant Junior/Senior High School (PPJSHS) will welcome the first performance of Shakespeare’s work in the school’s theatrical history.
“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” will be performed from 7:30-9 p.m., Feb. 4 and 1-3 p.m., Feb. 5, at the Wedge Auditorium. The play consists of 7-12 graders.
Karlee Edmonds, senior at PPHS, is the director of the school’s production and has been acting since the third grade. She was approached to help direct the play, when she was auditioning for an acting role for it by Jeff Wittman, the junior high theater teacher.
“Without Mr. Wittman, this play probably wouldn’t have been possible,” Edmonds said.
She stated that she had co-directed a smaller play that was written by students previously when in a theater class.
“I was the only one auditioning that had experience in directing but this is the first time I’ve helped direct a bigger production and this was Mr. Wittman’s first time directing a play here at PPJSHS and he asked me to help,” she said.
Edmonds then spoke about how she feels about her new directing role: “I do think I like acting better. It is a lot less stressful and I only have to worry about myself and the actors who are in the scenes with me; I don’t have to worry about all of the actors and what is happening in every scene, but I have actually enjoyed directing a lot more than I thought I would and I do think that, I may feel even more rewarded after the play is done. Directing has been a great experience and I’m thankful for it. I do have to admit, that I am really happy that I have a very small speaking role in the play. When I was originally asked to direct, I didn’t have a speaking part and it gave me a little anxiety not having any type of acting role in the play, but now I do have a very small role. I definitely have a lot more respect for my previous theater teachers and the stress all the students put them through.”
When the play was in its early stages Wittman asked the students if they would prefer adjusting the language of the play to a contemporary dialogue, or if they wanted to speak as the play was originally written?
Edmonds said the students wanted to take up the challenge of performing the play as the language was originally written and that she believed the students were “up for the challenge.”
“Before this play, not all of us that were involved were open to the idea of Shakespeare, but now I think more of the students are interested in him and his work,” Edmonds said.
According to Edmonds, Wittman would go over the words in a contemporary context so the students could better understand the content.
“It helped us understand the meaning of the words and also helped us become more aware of what the actors were suppose to be feeling in their scenes,” she stated. “During the first couple of practices it was really difficult but throughout the whole process we have all learned so much. The play is actually pretty funny and now I understand how people thought back when this play was written and the humour is still funny today. I am proud of everyone involved. This has been a learning process for us all and everyone has worked really hard and there has been hardly any practice skips and most will come to practices that they aren’t even required to attend.”
According to Wittman: “The students really have worked hard and wanted to practice during holidays. They have been so dedicated and I feel really proud of them.”
Edmonds also spoke to the Register about her views on the arts availability in schools: “I think having arts and drama in schools is extremely important. I don’t know what I would do without the arts because theater has been my whole life. I knew exactly what I wanted to do ever since my first performance. I am also confused when I hear people say that the arts are not important. The arts are a way to express yourself and learn about culture. Though this may not make sense to a lot of people, I think you can be yourself in theater. It gives an opportunity to see things from different perspectives, from different characters and it’s something really cool a person can experience through theater. I think it makes people feel good to watch theater and it is a powerful tool to make someone feel something.”
Admission for the performances are $10 for adults, $5 for children 13 and under, children under the age of six get in free. PPJSHS students should bring their student ID to attend the play.