Senior-directed plays return after one-year hiatus

photo: Aaron Wu

photo by Aaron Wu

Featuring productions like The Realities of Desire, PHS Odyssey, and Too Many Sheep, students directed, wrote, and performed in senior-directed plays on June 2–3 at 7:30 p.m. in the Black Box Theater.

A new set of PHS seniors resumed the traditional senior-directed plays after they were cancelled last year due to the teacher contract dispute. The productions, each approximately ten minutes long, are all works either adapted from other sources or written by the seniors.

The plays, as suggested by the name, received minimal faculty supervision. “There is no oversight in terms of the directing, but [PHS drama instructor Patricia Wray] did have to approve the plays we are performing,” said Lydia Duff ’16, the senior director of I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means.

Jessica Yun ’19 played Circe in PHS Odyssey, a play that parodies both the PHS freshman culture and Homer’s Ancient Greek epic poem The Odyssey. “We rehearse[d] one hour every day after school. I really enjoy[ed] the experience, because I was able to interact with seniors, who I usually don’t meet in my other classes. They’re really open, and rehearsals are really relaxed and enjoyable,” Yun said. “[Although] I play[ed] Circe, and I have few lines, I [got] to yell at the protagonist, which [was] fun.”

As a freshman at PHS herself, Yun found it interesting that the plot of the play had similarities to her own experience in this school. She found the play especially interesting in its connection to the typical PHS experience. “My favorite scene is when Calypso tries to convince the freshman protagonist, Owen, to stay with her rather than continue on in search of his mother Penelope. Owen faces a variety of obstacles as an incoming freshman, and must avoid all obstacles and distractions to make his way in his new school.”

Lisa Knigge ’17 played the role of Student 1 in Testing, directed by Jake Caddeau ’16. “Well, I’d never been in a play before,” Knigge said. “I auditioned because I think people should do things that scare them.” The audition process itself involved the auditionees performing a section of the script to the directors.

Many PHS senior directors used ideas from their drama classes to incorporate into their productions. “I got the idea for my play from a prompt we had in drama this year,” Duff said. “We had to write a play based on a board game, and I chose Scrabble, because I thought that left the most open [to interpretation]. I wanted to look at words, and how we interpret and communicate with them.”

For many students, working with seniors and other peers is a worthwhile experience. “The fact that students wrote, directed, and acted in this is really significant. It makes the works more relatable for students,” Yun said.

In short, many PHS student actors found the senior-directed plays to be an invigorating and enjoyable experience. “[The senior-directed plays are] not a traditional night of theater—they’re funny stuff, they’re a lot of cultural humor, specifically related to our school. It’s a fun and easy way to get experience in drama,” Yun said.

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