Words: Naseem Pashai
According to advertisements located around every corner at Centennial High School, the CHS drama department performed Twelfth Night, an intense Shakespearian experience. Many people attended the play and commended it for its cast, set, etc. However, what people did not see is the process through which the cast and crew of the play reached nerve-wrecking opening night. Recognition for the emotional process building up to performance is often neglected.
Amanda Ali, a sophomore at Centennial High School, was part of the cast of Twelfth Night. She played the role of Duke Orsino’s Court Lady in her first play and informed us of the experience of being a part of the production.
Prior to opening the show, many stresses are involved. Perhaps one of the most stressful steps is the audition process. Students auditioning range from experienced upperclassmen to freshmen that are willing to take a chance. Performing a monologue in front of Mrs. Carlsen and a panel of judges can be the scariest thing.
According to Amanda, this process is very scary. After being in the wings with about four other people and being called onto stage, all you see is darkness and a bright yellow light at the back of the auditorium next to the judges. This production being her first play, Amanda claimed that through it all, she continuously doubted herself. But callbacks caused the most anticipation. Amanda was called back for the role of Maria. Despite her excitement, she said, “I was really intimidated because a lot of juniors were up for that part.”
After auditions and callbacks, problems of time management arise. The cast and crew form homework groups and complete work during rehearsals. Amanda said, although the homework groups are extremely helpful, “[It is] hard to concentrate in a room with a bunch of theater kids.”
Involvement in the play also prohibits participation in many fall sports and afterschool activities. This conflict of time management results in the loss of valuable athletes or actors and actresses in both sports and the play. “I had to miss a couple dance classes as well as school clubs,” Amanda said, “but everyone was very understanding.”
Memorization of lines is perhaps one of the most important yet difficult aspects of being a part of the play. Cast and crew must take time out of their day to memorize stage directions and lines ahead of time. This process cannot be left for last minute. To have the lines memorized, including stage directions, by tech week is most definitely not an effortless step.
“We had to memorize Shakespeare which is obviously a lot harder because we aren’t used to the Shakespearian language,” Amanda said. She told us she would constantly see her friends stressing to memorize lines if they weren’t doing work in other classes, but they would always get it down.
Tech week. Long rehearsal hours, dinner at school, homework at school, makeup, costume, lights, and scene transitions are all part of the dreadful process. Cast and crew spend hours at Centennial in order to prepare for opening night. Last minute set touch-ups are made, participants could not be more tired.
“We’re all very grateful to the parents that bring us dinner,” said Amanda. She also pointed out tech week anxiety. The cast worried over audience’s understanding of the play as well as the humor involved. “We have to make sure the last couple scenes make sense and pull everything together for the audience.” Amanda said the modern touch to the Shakespearian play, as well as the costumes and the small environment, all add up to the fun aspect of being a part of the production.
All of these stresses finally led to the show’s opening night. After a face-to-face interview following the production, Amanda said “all the stress and hard work did pay off in the end. I had tons of fun with the play and the cast. It was a great time!”