Hum II 4B Theatre Shenanigans: A Tranquil Day of Acting Gone Wrong

Pierce Pearson

During fourth period on March 3, the Humanities II 4B Theatre class put on a show like never before — or, rather, a very unique sequence of shows. In the span of an hour, the mask mandate was discussed, stereotypes in the media were exposed, and sophomore Anurag Sodhi performed the newly dubbed “Anurag Tumble” off the stage in the midst of a sword fight between students. 

To give some perspective, the students of that class were tasked with mimicking a prestigious theatre-style known as the Living Newspaper, which dramatizes modern events and social struggles to call attention to the issues in the world. The Hum II 4B class was the first to receive the assignment, and they split up into four groups: three small groups of girls and one group of ten boys. Jacob Traver, Centennial’s Theatre director, was hesitant at first to allow a group of ten to form, but after he saw the final product, he was glad that he approved. After approximately a month of scripting and rehearsing, the students all came together to perform.

The first play, performed by Nandini Wagle, Riley Middleton, and Natalie Robinson, explored both sides of the decision to wear masks or not with the rescinding of the mask mandate using an angel/devil shoulder dynamic. It validated both sides of the argument, delivering the message that everybody has the freedom to make their own decisions. 

Renee Wu, Abby Conrad, Allie Liu, and Ming Huang took the stage for the second performance, which satirized double standards between men and women in the music industry, using an interview of Taylor Swift and Jake Gyllenhaal as an example of these stereotypes. Wu reported that, “when Taylor Swift was being interviewed, they asked her things about her outfit and her relationships, but when Jake Gyllenhaal came in to sit next to her in the talk show, he was being praised about his actual career.” This group’s ultimate intention was to spread that women deserve to be treated equally in the workplace in general.

Next, Arushi Acharya, Chloe Ng, Naomi Chao, and Dia Nawathe tackled various issues in the world through an election debate between a conservative incumbent and a fourth-world Texan. Nawathe stated that, “initially, we wrote it to be about abortion — then there was the economy — then there was pretty much everything else. Because of how many things there were to cover, we thought a play surrounding the Texas primaries would be a good idea,” and with the hilarious antics of the incumbent, the righteousness claims of the fourth world Texan and a surprise cameo from Donald Trump, the play was certainly a good idea.

These three plays were all very wholesome and rooted in reality, but when the boys’ World War III play began, everything hit the fan — in the most captivating way possible, that is.

The first scene was kept sacred and was narrated with subtle music as it focused on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which is a heartfelt topic that should not be satirized. It was also the only topic rooted in history, as World War III hasn’t happened (yet), so liberties were taken with the events of the war. After a round table discussion that ignited the fires of war, various battles broke out: India and China vs. the UK and Germany, North Korea and South Africa vs. Canada and South Korea, and, finally, the United States vs. Russia.

Naturally, the combination of these large-scale battles, riddled with the use of modern weaponry, including the infamous nuclear kinds (represented by oranges), lead to the destruction of the world, but the nations ultimately gathered back together to rebuild the broken world, leaving the audience on a positive note with peaceful music in the background. Sounds like a pretty good show, right? Well it was, but it was more memorable for the moments that veered from the script rather than the ones that stuck to it.

“I really let myself loose with the character when Evan picked me up during our fight scene,” mentioned Sodhi, who played North Korea in the epic showdown versus South Korea. “I just can’t believe he tried to take on a man with a sword bare-handed.” Sodhi was confused in the moment, and so was South Africa, played by Pierce Pearson, who had to slam him into the ground in order to eliminate him from the plot — that part was not in the script.

“Half of the musical transitions were just nonexistent,” stated Viraj Janeja. “I mean that is a bad thing, but it was really funny to see Jackson [Martin] and Landon [Cole] throwing nuclear oranges at each other and standing there waiting for the sound effect.” The intense music in the background did its job in the most important scenes, but sometimes, it was less than perfect. 

The most notorious moment of the play, however, was when Sodhi ran and tumbled off of the stage while trying to get a prop hat, a move that has now been dubbed (by everyone other than Anurag) as the “Anurag Tumble.”

“I’ve never seen choreography so elaborate and graceful,” joked Atul Kashyap, who played both Canada and India. “It should be something that goes down in the history books.” 

Although the play veered from the script in hilarious ways, the product as a whole brought the entire Hum class together through laughter and in a common understanding of what the world could look like soon enough. It was so impactful that students are even discussing performing a class-wide musical!

Nawathe brought up that, “[they] haven’t done a unanimous Hum activity before, so I think putting on a big musical would be a good bonding experience for us.” Despite having a somewhat chaotic theatre experience, Sodhi expressed a similar sentiment, stating that a classwide play “would be interesting and fun! It would be a logistical nightmare, but it would be very interesting, and I’d be interested to take part in it.”

The ultimate goal of theatre is to bring people together, and the Hum II 4B class displayed this perfectly. Congratulations to all the students who made it possible!


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