Often, Redwood Valley High School's annual play is a frothy musical; this year, they're going for something a little darker....
Being successful on the stage means having a willingness to stretch oneself to try new things and to take on bigger challenges.
So, when Whitney Hegg, RVHS three-act play director, began planning the 2013 performance she opted to go in a different direction – drama.
“The kids actually expressed an interest in drama,” explained Hegg, adding a group of them actually asked her if they could do a drama this year.
So, when Hegg decided to utilize that genre in this year’s production, there was one play that came to mind.
When the curtain opens in early November, the RVHS cast and crew are going to be performing Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible.”
The dramatic play, which was orignally written in 1953, is considered a dramatized and fictionalized telling of the Salem Witch trials that took place in Massachusetts during the 1690s.
Most believe Miller created the play as an effort to address to the issues of McCarthyism going on in the U.S. at the time it was written.
“The kids read it in class,” said Hegg, adding it made sense then to help them see the play they have read, or are going to be reading at some time in their RVHS education, as it was intended – on the stage.
“This gives them a connection to the literature they are reading,” Hegg said.
She also believes while it takes place in the 17th Century, the themes of generalizations and diversity still apply to them today.
“The themes are universal and relevant,” she said, adding messages of acceptance and understanding play out on the stage.
When society fears something it does not understand, the tendency is to reject it or worse to try and put it down. So, when accusations of witchcraft are made and the play unfolds the story helps performers and viewers alike to see the other side of an issue.
Hegg knows the students who are involved have demonstrated success in different theatrical styles, such as comedy, and this performance gives them a chance to stretch themselves with something different.
The play is dialogue driven, said Hegg, but she said students also need to understand in performing a drama even the smallest of body movements can speak volumes to an audience.
Hegg said rehear-sals are now in the blocking stage, but most of the cast members are also working on memorization of their many lines.
As the performance comes together, Hegg said she emphasizes getting the cast and crew involved in what actually takes place.
She allows them to make suggestions, and, so long as they are within the realm of possibility, they are given due consideration.
There are some students who are returning to the stage this year, said, Hegg, with many others trying theater at the high school level for the first time.
There is a good mix of experienced and new performers, said Hegg. She is also excited about the number of students who ex-pressed an interest in being part of the crew doing things like lights, sound, costuming and stage set-up.
Hegg said she has never done a drama at RVHS before, and she is not sure when the last three-act drama was performed. It is something new and a big challenge for the kids, but Hegg is confident they are up to the task.
The cast for the presentation of “The Crucible” includes:
• Ellen Munshower as Abigail Williams
• Anella Stewart as Betty Parris
• Ahnna Malecek as Ann Putnam
• Sydney Kranz as Elizabeth Proctor
• Megan Kipfer as Mary Warren
• Natalie Polak as Martha Corey
• Susan Bucholz as Mercy Lewis
• Stephanie Hernandez as Rebecca Nurse
• Tamarah Frank as Sarah Good and the play’s narrator
• Andi Cable as Susanna Wilcott
• Halie Wilhelmi as Tituba
• Quinn Gregg as Danforth
• Will Buffie as John Hale
• David Helsper as John Proctor
• James Schmieg as Judge Hathorne
• Bruce Helsper as Giles Corey
• Aidan Dirlam as Cheever, Willard and Hopkins
• Marshal Quast as Parris
The crew for the RVHS performance includes: Becky Vang, Clair Hammerschmidt, Steph Schefus, Charli Miller, Drew Weis, Line Skaarup, Kiersten Schmidt, Jesse Aloway and Alex Amunrud
Performances are scheduled for Nov. 7-9.