Laughter through conversational minefields was the running theme for the evening of three short plays performed by ACS High School students Friday and Saturday December 11 and 12.
Not only did the performance prompt laughter from the audience, it also brought smiles to a needy family, who was living in overcrowded conditions in a dilapidated house. The performances raised $800 over two nights, which will be used to help refurbish the family’s house.
Students from Grades 9 through 12 staged the three comedies by David Ives, under the direction of James McLean, IB Theater Instructor and Visual and Performing Arts Coordinator.
“The world according to David Ives is a very odd place,” says McLean, “and his plays constitute a virtual stress test of the English language.”
For one hour, the students showed off the skills they had learned from McLean in delivering jokes through correct timing, with the proper body language, and with just the right dose of melodrama.
In addition to the student actors, high school student Riwa S. composed some of the music for the show, playing it live along with a fellow student saxophonist.
The three comedies were:
Sure Thing - Two people meet in a cafe and find their way through a conversational minefield as an off-stage bell interrupts their false starts, gaffes, and faux-pas on the way to falling in love.
Arabian Nights - Utterly normal Norman walks into utterly ordinary Flora's shop looking for a souvenir of his travels and together they find whirlwind romance, spurred on by a wacky translator.
Soap Opera - a washing-machine repairman falls in love with a picture-perfect washer. Should he tell his girlfriend Mabel? Is the washer two-timing him with a dryer?
“Staging a play with the students not only helps them hone their acting skills, but also develop an appreciation of different theatrical genres and traditions,” said McLean. “It also teaches our students how to work collaboratively, accept constructive criticism, and trains them on what is appropriate behavior when they go to the theater. It also builds their confidence and presentation skills. In other words, this is not just an acting exercise, but also a character development exercise.”
McLean also explained that for the past nine years, the proceeds from every performance have gone to a charity, coordinated via Hoda Chatah, the community service coordinator at ACS. Whether they went to feed Syrian refugees, or to offer them winter clothes or supply students with the ingredients they need to cook for the homeless, all proceeds have always helped the needy.