Miramonte Players Stirrin’ Up Drama

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Elena Wasserman

Other than just focusing on their two main productions this year, the Miramonte Players have been busy at work. From performing in a Shakespeare festival with all four schools in the Acalanes School District to traveling to OIS to perform original one acts addressing the issues and concerns of life in middle school, the Miramonte Players, haven’t taken a breath since the first day of school.

“We normally just put on two plays and have one big project in between. But this year we’re managing to not have one, but three big projects in between,” Drama Teacher Heather Cousins said. The first big in-between-productions project the drama classes took on was the Shakespeare festival.

“You have four chairs, no costumes and five-seven people–depending on what group you’re in–performing a Shakespeare play in eight minutes. It’s awesome,” junior Amrita Newton said. DTASC (Drama Teachers Association of Southern California) holds these festivals annually with drama students from schools across Southern California who participate in not only a festival but a cut throat competition.

Every group had to select between the famous Shakespeare plays: Macbeth, Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, Much Ado About Nothing, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. From there everyone was given about six weeks to rehearse and perfect their scenes hoping to be one of the chosen performances for the big stage. DTASC (Drama Teachers Association of Southern California) holds these festivals annually with drama students from schools across Southern California who participate in not only a festival but a cut throat competition.

“We’re hoping to one day have the Shakespeare festival in Northern California, but until then we thought why not just do it for our four schools in our district and just make it a fun day of performing for everyone,” Cousins said.

After students had an opportunity to mingle over breakfast bagels, the two strongest groups from each school showcased their work on the Acalanes High School stage.

“It was such a great experience,” sophomore Sam Shain said. “By the end of the day I didn’t just feel like I was a part of a drama class but a part of a drama community.”

The second big project that only the Advanced Drama students are  taking on is the TIE (Theater in Education) project.  They will travel to OIS on Feb. 12 with three original scripts for each grade that addresses the issues and concerns that the middle schoolers are going through.

“The fact that we’ve all been there makes it even more meaningful because the scripts we write aren’t filled with made up stories; they’re based on true stories about things that have happened to us,” junior Maya Konstantino said. “It’s surprising to know how many of us used to be bullied and what sort of people we are today because of it.”

The third and maybe most exciting project that the drama classes are taking on is their participation in the English-Speaking Union National Shakespeare Competition. The program begins in classrooms worldwide where students perform a Shakespeare monologue from an original Shakespeare play.

The winner then advances to the ESU Branch Competition where they perform the same monologue along with a Shakespearean sonnet. The winner from that then advances to the National Competition, held in the Lincoln Center in New York, and competes to be one of 7-10 finalists chosen to compete in London for the grand prize of a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art’s Young Actor’s Summer School in London.

“Even though it’s a long shot we are hoping someone makes it to London so we can have a class field trip,” Newton said.

Some would say being on a sports team is hard but these drama students aren’t only practicing every day, they’re performing on a much bigger stage, literally.