After much planning, many setbacks and tireless rehearsals, the school play under the direction of Drama and English 10 teacher and head of the Drama Department Rosamaria Sias, has been postponed indefinitely. The play “High School Nonmusical” was scheduled to be performed during April 22 and 23, however, the actress playing the part of Gabriella was unable to perform and did not have an understudy to replace her.
“We are going to aim for at least one performance this year of the play we have been doing because we don’t want all of our effort to be for nothing. Everyone deserves their time on stage,” senior president of Thespian Society and Assistant Director of the play Pateley Johnson said. “We are not going to change anything, it’s just because of the incident where one of our actresses could not come to the play. I’m just going to step up and take the part [of Gabriella] so we are still going to carry on with that.”
Although the actress leaving the play was a major setback for the production, it has not been the only one. The Drama Department has struggled to put on a production since October of 2016, when the play was yet to be formally announced.
“[The idea of a play] started last year, we have actually had three different rounds of actors come through for the first round, then they didn’t show up. Then the second cast, they found out it was too much conflict with their schedules. Then came the third round of actors and I am so pleased that everything lead us to have these dedicated actors,” Johnson said.
Along with the issue of having few students audition for the play, the Drama Department had many issues regarding the scheduling of rehearsing within the Bolles theater. Due to Vocal Music Department’s priority over Bolles theater during the winter time for Christmas rehearsals and performance, Sias and head of VMD Gail Kennedy failed to reach a balanced schedule.
Bonita Vista once had a thriving theater program and the thespians would produce three to four productions a year. Those years are quickly fading as the Drama Department continues to struggle with its identity. One issue cited is losing access to a theater that once was shared between the VMD and drama.
“The hardest part of not having access to the theater 100 percent is that it makes it illegitimate, rehearsals don’t feel real, you sit in the classroom and you practice but when you go into the real stage you’re confused as to where you’re supposed to be positioned. It’s different and doing it mostly in the classroom made it harder,” senior and role of Troy Bolton, Gerardo Rios said.
The play was originally planned to be a nonprofessional production for the students to gain experience, according to Johnson. The reason Barons may not have noticed this most recent setback is that there was no physical advertising of the play. The Drama Department considered “High School Nonmusical” to be only a small production for the families of students.
“It will probably not be the best play the school has had because we are trying to promote the beginners more to get involved. [The play is] probably going to be a beginners Drama Department setoff, it’s not going to be professional. Basically it’s just fun for the students so it’s for the students to benefit themselves and for others to enjoy,” Johnson said in October 2016.
However, according to Sias, the objective of having fun and gaining experience began to fade as she saw the opportunity to create a more professional production.
“I have to say the same I said early in the year, we’re doing this for fun, everybody wants to get the experience of being on stage and acting in front of others. At this point, I have to remind myself that that’s what it was. Since this was the intention, this is what they will get,” Sias said.
The Drama Department’s struggle stems from an organization’s fears of failure. The department cannot decide whether or not productions should be for fun or to be professional. One of the fears is that the department will lose its participants if it takes itself too seriously.
“We just really encourage our actors to stay committed because it has been a very long process. I am so grateful for the actors we have now have stuck with us for so long. We just hope that no one else gets tired of waiting because everyone has been really good,” Johnson said.
While there were many failures and setbacks that the Drama Department experienced when setting up the play and rehearsing for production, these failures did help the department in terms of future productions and the creation of an identity.
“I am getting the experience of directing the play, doing a full on production and now I know things that I want to do differently next year. I am weary of saying that this was stressful because I am sure that I will put myself right back into it again next year. I will do things differently next year so that I can ease the workload. It’s all about live and learn and boy am I learning a lot,” Sias said.
Despite this year’s schedule for the play being a failure, there is still plans for the show to go on this year. Sias and Johnson hope to deliver the play before AP testing begins.
“Because of the situation I have seen an increase in people saying ‘we need to do this. We have been doing this for so long, this is our moment,” Johnson said, “It’s their pivotal point where they realize this is real and in order to have this happen we need to have commitment.”