If I had a nickel for every time someone told me to try something new, I would have tons of money. We are constantly told to venture into something new—try out for the basketball team, or take the harder class. On a crisp day in November, I decided to take this advice and try out for this year’s Winter Play, Photosynthesis and Dramamine, which was performed on January 12 and 13 on Oates Theater’s stage. While the theater was once my comfort zone (in third grade I had a part in a SPARC play about the heart (as in the organ) where I played a muscle), I have not acted on stage since I was twelve years old. I was nervous to come into a community of veteran performers and afraid that trying something new was going to end in flames.
Walking into the audition, I was comforted by the familiar faces of the Honors Theater class and play directors: Margaret Wadsworth (17’) , Anna Galanides (17’) , Michael Warker (17’), Bobbie Edmunds (17’) and Olivia Laskin (17’). They did not look at me like I was a “newbie,” but rather like I was a person who shared their love for the arts and wanted to try something new. I asked Wadsworth about how the directors felt about new people trying out for the play, and she said, “It’s so refreshing, not to mention exciting, to see new faces. The Winter Play is the perfect opportunity for students who wouldn’t normally be involved in theatre to get involved.” Edmunds recalled her first theater experience at Collegiate: “I was especially nervous since I wasn’t just a freshman but I was new to the school completely. I didn’t know anyone.” Edmunds’ first Collegiate show was Seussical, and she remembered “walking into the first day of rehearsal in the summer, and how many people came up and introduced themselves or welcomed me into their conversations—there was and is a genuine interest in each person’s individuality.”
I found my first experience doing Collegiate Theater to be very similar to Edmunds’. I was welcomed into the community and felt as if I had been doing shows since freshman year. The Winter Play has been a tradition at Collegiate for years, and it is usually short scenes directed by students in the Honors Theater class. Some previous plays include All In The Timing, Blurred Lines, Metamorphoses and Almost, Maine. Photosynthesis and Dramamine is a collection of scenes and monologues written by Christopher Durang and Jane Martin. In Photosynthesis and Dramamine, each scene is different but connected through their strange style of humor, most scenes involving some audience member interaction.
As is common for the Winter Play, the play is performed on an eccentric setting. This year the setting was Black Box, where the stage is set in the middle of the audience. Black Box setting makes for a more intimate performance as well as a challenge for the actors, as they must engage every section of the audience. Each scene is quirky and hilarious in its own way, which is why I believe that the unconventional setting of the stage matched flawlessly to the play.
In my scene, I played an intoxicated woman who cut her toe off with a snow shovel and now keeps it in her refrigerator; a scene that, obviously, matches the peculiar tone of the play. “I feel obligated to say that my favorite scene is my own: ‘DMV Tyrant.’” Wadsworth told me, “However! I also really love ‘Medea,’ which is directed by Bobbie. It’s a satire about Greek tragedies, and it’s the scene the Honors Theater class laughed the most at when we were reading it out loud. I’m also really looking forward to the scene Michael’s directing, ‘Naomi in the Living Room.’ The characters in that scene are so fun to read, and I’m sure they’ll be just as fun to watch.”
Even with snow days resulting in three missed rehearsals, this year’s winter play was marvelous. Each director and actor brought amazing energy to their scenes that shined during the performances. I am thrilled I tried something new and took a chance. I can not wait to hear about future productions and urge everyone to take a risk and do something different.
Featured image by Taylor Dabney.