By Catherine Rutley and Aysha Salam
February is fast approaching and with it, the much-anticipated arrival of Sharon High School Theater Company's student directed productions. On February 8th and 9th, the three student directed shows will perform. This year, directors Drew Maidment and Henry Saniuk, Ilana Sawyer, and Ben Brack and Ethan Aronson have casted their talents in their respective three shows, Almost, Maine, Tunnel Vision, and Death By Television. All that’s left to do is bring their visions to life onstage…
Almost, Maine, written by John Cariani, consists of nine vignettes set in the mystical town of Almost, Maine. The vignettes revolve around a common theme—love; its creation and its loss. In keeping with the theme of love, Drew Maidment comments that he “loves the magic in all the stories”. Perhaps this magic stems from the relatablity of the vignettes… after all, who hasn’t experienced first kiss butterflies or eaten through their fair share of Ben and Jerrys during a particularly rough break-up? Or in the case of the vignette, “They Fell”, suffer through a classic case of how-did-I-not-see-this-earlier-itis?
Death by Television is a satirical play that explores the effect of media on today’s culture, a topic that proves only too relevant in a world where Facebook and Twitter take priority over homework. The show has been carefully crafted by Sharon High School’s very own Ethan Aronson. Don’t let the satire give you the impression that the show is dark, however—sources say that the show had them laughing after only a few minutes into the first rehearsal. The directors facilitate this type of bonding through the trust they place in their cast members. They are allowing the cast members to rewrite some of the script, turning the play into a true group effort. In fact, the cast offers feedback on many of the parts of the rehearsal process—and “because there are so few of us, everyone gets to put their input in on every scene, and so it really comes from them… how to improve and make things better,” Ethan Aronson says, proudly.
Tunnel Vision continues the theme that high school students, particularly those in the midst of the college process, will relate to… the psychological state of teenagers. Director Ilana Sawyer wrote the show in the hopes of fostering understanding between all members of our community, those with larger mental burdens (like the one that her main character, Ralph, struggles with) and those without—attempting to remind people that they are not alone. Her message is clear: “real life has truth and suffering— but always enduring hope”. When asked about the struggles she herself has faced, as a first-time director and playwright, Ilana hems and hams, fighting to find some. Instead, she says, the experience has been altogether easier and more rewarding than she expected. “It is,” she beams, “the most most incredible, heart-wrenching experience to have other people passionate about the words that I wrote and believe in me & my vision.”
All three shows have a long road ahead of them, but director Maidment seems confident and optimistic for the future. “I can already tell that it’s going to be a very rewarding experience and I think that with this incredible cast we can overcome any obstacle,” he declares . A corny vision? Yes. Unrealistically high expectations? Based on what the shows have accomplished so far during the rehearsal process, absolutely not.