Acting I students present theater showcase in Performing Arts Center

From left to right, senior Katie Thach, freshman Ryan Denton, and sophomore Alexa Denton perform in a scene “Badger Poison” at the December 9th theater showcase in the Performing Arts Center. “I enjoy acting very much. This past semester has been so fun,” Thach said. “And I loved being able to put myself in someone else’s shoes.” Photo by Beliah Christian.

To highlight the fine arts skills East’s acting classes have perfected over the semester, Acting I presented a theater showcase in the Performing Arts Center on Thursday, December 9th, performing a one-act performance of The Alibis by Jonathan Dorf. 

The Alibis follows a clueless detective’s case into the murder of an eccentric billionare, as well as his quest to reveal the true alibis of the suspects. However, he runs into trouble when he realizes they are all reluctant to reveal their true intentions, as they were out committing other ridiculous acts of crime at the time of the murder. It becomes a race against time as the detective struggles to figure out who the true killer is. 

In preparation for the showcase, students worked on a variety of fine arts skills and techniques to perfect their performances to ensure the success of the play.

Junior Ashley Sneigowski said that practicing techniques like warm-ups helped her solidify her acting expressions and ultimately improve her performance. 

“Whether it’s memorizing lines or working on the blocking, there is always something you work on to improve the show. That’s one reason I love my class. I never feel like I’m wasting my time,” Sneigowski said. 

Conducting warm-ups are just the tip of the iceberg and one of many exercises Acting I classes do to prepare for the showcase. Line memorization and play blocking are a crucial part of the process, helping an actor determine where they should be on stage as they are performing. 

Senior cast member Katie Thach said that they practice these two components daily but usually prioritize certain scenes that need extensive work.

“We begin rehearsing from whatever our director wants to see, but sometimes we will get a chance to watch other scenes or rehearse and memorize our own lines,” Thach said. 

For most Acting I students, this is their first time acting and performing on stage in front of an audience. 

Freshman Ryan Denton is a first time actor and said that he felt a mix of emotions as the showcase drew near.

“This is my first time acting and I’m a little nervous about performing as a big role in front of a lot of people. But I’m also excited to show who I am to others. Super nervous, but super excited,” Denton said. 

Teacher Nicole Chandler echoed the same sentiments as Denton, adding that this is the school’s first theater showcase in over 2 years. She said that she’s excited to see what her Acting I classes can accomplish with what they’ve learned over the course of the semester. 

“I am excited for our showcase because it’s the first one we’ve done since the fall of 2019 … so I look forward to these students doing this production because for so many of [them], this is their first time performing in a play, performing in the PAC, or both. We have a lot of first-timers and this is so fun to see them perform on a stage for the first time,” Chandler said.

Senior director Grace Adler said that she was thrilled about being able to display the talents of East’s Acting I classes, adding that she holds a lot of the responsibility when it comes to making sure the showcase is a success, along with ensuring the actors have the experience necessary to perform well. 

“I realized that these kids are new, which makes sense since this is an Acting I class. You have to push a lot of these kids in different directions and really have to work with different students in different ways,” Adler said. “I’ve learned that a lot of times, some students struggle in different areas. Some struggle with memorizing or some struggle with just movement and blocking and making their voice loud.”

For Sneigowski, line memorization became the hardest aspect to master. But with the help of her mentors and classmates, she was able to get back on track. 

“Memorization has been the hardest challenge for me, but Grace and Mrs. Chandler have been so helpful by either giving me tips or just giving me the hard truth when I need to get back in the zone,” Sneigowski said. “My friends have also helped me go through lines which made me go from being 30% memorized to 90% pretty fast.”

The night of the performance, the Acting I classes felt a mixture of excitement and nervousness prior to their debut, but that all quickly turned to relief and delight as the showcase came to a close. 

Thach said that she felt grateful for the opportunity to perform and was content with the way the showcase ran.

“I felt really good performing. It was a great first time experience and I can’t wait to do more with it,” Thach said. “I think the way we all worked together went so well. We were able to cover up mistakes and forgotten lines … it was such a fun thing to put together.”

Denton said that he was also satisfied with the outcome of the night. However, he said that he wished to improve on certain aspects of his performance in order to do better next time. 

“I think I was loud and clear and portrayed my character very well, but one thing I need to improve on is making eye contact better and trying to figure out if I should face someone in the audience or the other person next to me [when performing],” Denton said. 

Adler said that there were a couple of hiccups throughout the showcase that hindered the students’ performances such as forgotten lines or incorrect blocking, but with the cast’s quick thinking, they were able to perform smoothly. 

“There were a couple mess ups, but it looked so natural because they improvised and they were able to cover themselves. They were able to get right back on track. Obviously I know they were nervous … but I think they did amazing,” Adler said. 

Sneigowski said that although the Acting I classes faced a myriad of challenges and experienced a flurry of emotions, the theater showcase went off without a hitch.

“My class did an amazing job and I think I did pretty good as well. Even when we screwed up lines, someone was always quick to cover them,” Sneigowski said. “I think if the show went absolutely perfect, it wouldn’t have been a huge learning experience so I’m very happy with how everything turned out.”

Beliah Christian is a staff writer for Oswego East High School’s online news magazine the Howl

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