High school drama program creates community with latest play | SteamboatToday.com

High school drama program creates community with latest play

Ruby Frank plays the part of John Webster during a rehearsal for “Shakespeare In Love,” which opens at 7 p.m. Thursday at Steamboat Springs High School.
John F. Russell/Steamboat Pilot & Today

This weekend will feature fighting and fencing at the high school, something drama students say has brought them closer together. It’s all part of the fun as students present “Shakespeare in Love” this Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Since they couldn’t have a live audience last year due to COVID-19, they are looking forward to getting back on stage and performing. Drama teacher Mac Leys found a script that was written specifically for high school, and while he made a few minor changes, he didn’t take many liberties with it, instead he was content to let the students do what they do best: act, direct, design and rise to the challenge of putting on a play.

Twenty students will act in the production with another 15 helping out with tech and costumes. Students have been rehearsing since September, and most agree that when they’re in the theater, it feels like problems melt away.

“It’s a weird year because we’re still worrying about COVID, but we tried to retain some sense of normalcy,” said senior Isabella Brinkman, who plays Will Shakespeare. “When we’re in the theater, it feels like the problems of the world go away, and we’re all really close. It feels like a safe space.”

If you go

What: “Shakespeare in Love”

When: 7 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday

Where: Steamboat Springs High School Auditorium, 45 Maple St.

Tickets: $10, available at the front office; masks are required on all audience members

Brinkman, who has been part of the drama program since seventh grade, is also head of costumes and is the fight choreographer for the show.

“There are two different fight scenes — one is hand to hand, and one is fencing. I helped choreograph how the fights would look and then helped teach that to the people who were in those scenes,” she explained.

Brinkman isn’t the only student taking on extra roles; senior Emma Poper, who plays Christopher Marlowe, is also one of two student directors along with junior Hayden Curry.

Aly Goldman plays the part of Viola De Lesseps while rehearsing a scene for “Shakespeare In Love.”
John F. Russell/Steamboat Pilot & Today

It’s her first time as a student director, but as a fan of storytelling — a field she envisions herself in one day — she wanted to try her hand at it.

“I think directing is a form of that art,” Poper said. “I think that helping people find themselves on stage is the best way to get out of your comfort zone, and I want to do that — and have fun!”

Once the cast was set, Poper spent hours going through the entire show and analyzing each scene.

“I helped block the entire show and helped people find their characters and personify them and really get into the acting mindset,” she said. “A director’s job is to make sure the actors look good and to push them.”

Isabella Brinkman plays the part of Will Shakespeare while rehearsing a scene with Emma Poper playing the part of Christopher "Kit" Marlowe in the high school’s upcoming production of “Shakespeare In Love.”
John F. Russell/Steamboat Pilot & Today

Poper said that the experience of directing was one of the best things that has ever happened to her in the theater program, which she has been a part of for all four years of high school.

“It was just a completely new role that I tried to step into, and it gave me a whole new perspective on making a show come to life, especially with being an actor as well,” she said. “When you wear all those hats, you can really see a play come together.”

In the future, both Brinkman and Poper said they hope to continue with theater, whether in college or by participating in community theater — mainly, they say, because of the community that it has created for them.

“Most groups become a family, and I can truly be myself around them,” Brinkman said. “I’m proud of the community that we’ve been able to make here.”

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