Featured Full Length Play: Boxes

Looking for a full length play for your Community Theatre? Check out, Boxes.

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SYNOPSIS: Parents don’t come with rule books and it’s easy for the lines of responsibility to become blurred as adult parents lose their health and independence. The play focuses on the lives of Bob and Betty and their adult children Cathy and Michael. Each forced to deal in his own way with a painful move from the only house Bob and Betty have lived in throughout their fifty years of marriage. As the move progresses all must face the harsh reality that some boxes can’t be unpacked.

Great, in all ways too real. Audiences will adore the Dad and Michael characters. They read so true you can almost touch them through their language. The story is pulled together wonderfully. The “unpacking of the boxes” is beautiful and the symbolism of it comes softly without suggestion. This is a picture of the American family after the credits roll. The kind that leaves a heavy lump in the back of your throat. ”- Rebecca Cox

Scotus Central Catholic High: The Performance for a Life

Have you ever saved a life? It’s unlikely when choosing which play to perform that the Director, thinks, “Now which one of these will save an audience member’s life?” In fact, the thinking is probably more along the lines of, “Which play can this cast get through without killing each other.” But then, Scotus Central Catholic High School comes along and their story is as beautiful and engaging as their performance of May I Have Your Attention, Please? I recently was able to speak with, Daniel Strecker who played Chris Borthwick in the play four years ago. I had heard the rumors of some school in Nebraska whose performance had saved a life, but until now, I never knew the rest of the story.
Scotus Central Catholic High School is a small school (400 students), located in Columbus, NE.  It’s a parochial school, and like most schools,  money is tight. In Daniel’s sophomore year of high school the Fine Arts had to cut its budget to save other activities like sports and academic extracurriculars. One Acts was one of the things that was cut. [In case you don’t know what it is, it is a short play acting competition usually the duration of One Act (hence the name).] This may not seem very different from a lot of other schools across the country who when forced to make budget cuts have turned to the arts as one of the first budget items to cut. Though this cut is only the beginning of the story, it easily could have been the end.
Fortunately, at the end of Daniel’s Junior year it was announced that One Acts would be returning. This decision made Daniel and other fans of the Fine Arts very happy. They turned to Director, Becki Zanardi to direct the one act play entry. She accepted the huge challenge of putting together a troupe from the interested but inexperienced students. Only one student had experienced at One Acts competition as an assistant to a stage manager. So the troupe faced quite a challenge.
Once the One Acts were brought back and the teacher was in place, the group read many scripts together. The group was comprised of 20 students total which included the actors and stage crew. The  group was eager to get started but were frustrated early on because they couldn’t find a script they enjoyed or wanted to do or one they felt they could even pull off. Then they found May I Have Your Attention, Please?. When they got to the end of the group read for that script, “the room was silent.” 
Daniel said, “We knew we wouldn’t win anything for One Acts. We had no experience.
We knew we wanted to spend our time well and felt that the script portrayed a message we were willing to work and stand behind.The script really brought us together as actors. We had to be vulnerable as our characters, which isn’t common for a high school performance. We had to spend a lot of time focusing on certain lines because they were raw enough to make it difficult.
For me, playing Chris was difficult. I took acting a little more seriously so I tried as hard as I could to understand his character. I never knew how to say my ABCs backwards until I played Chris! “
The inexperienced troupe ranked 3rd overall at District and Daniel was awarded Best AIMG_0766[1]ctor for his role as Chris Borthwick. It was then on to District Competition and that’s when the unbelievable happened. The audience had responded well and the Scotus troupe felt their performance had been solid but nothing prepared them for what was about to happen. 
“We were told that a life was saved.”
Daniel, explains, “A girl came up to me with a friend. They explained to me that someone from their school had thought about suicide for awhile and that our performance saved her life that night.  They were so impacted by this saving of their friend that they suggested talking to the judges and asking them to let us go to state so that more people could see it performed in the event we didn’t win. Their friend who was near suicide and these two girls were so moved by the script. It was so emotional. I went into my first year of college with an acting scholarship because I realized that if the stage can move someone this much I don’t want to leave it.”
May I Have Your Attention, Please? is by far my favorite play I’ve ever performed. I heard an analogy that I think is fitting for the situation.
A drop of water never comes to know the ripples it makes. (This is true of course because the force causes the water to go out and by the time it returns it’s already a part of the body of water it dropped into). This script moved me and all of my cast mates and I’m sure it moved many audiences. I think it saved more than just one life in our 3 performances of it (District, Conference, and an open audience performance).”
If the analogy is correct, this inexperienced drama troupe from a school of 400 set off a rippling effect in a mighty big way. Who can say they’ve saved a life? What greater feat is there? And they did it with theatre. Is there anything more meaningful or magical? This playwright thinks not.
Recognizing the lifesaving Cast: Valerie Borer,  Conner Moran,  Jacob Neinaber,  Carly Burkhardt,  Emily Kosch,  Daniel Strecker, Jenny Ryan and Director, Becki Zanardi 
#Theatre4Change  #MayIHaveYourAttentionPlease

13 Reasons Why… to Choose This Play

May I Have Your Attention, Please? 16105846_10154878696525629_5259880020502504471_n

  1. The play allows your troupe to tackle the important issue of teen suicide.  (A Nebraska School who performed the play at a One Act Competition, had an audience member say the play saved her life!) #Theatre4Change
  2. The play allows for community resources to be utilized and a dialogue to begin. Many schools have guest Counselors lead a discussion with parents, students and community members after the performance.
  3. The play does not glorify suicide and leaves the ending open so there is no graphic content or depiction of suicide.
  4. The play offers an outstanding role for a leading male actor. Many actors who have played the role of Chris Borthwick have won best actor at state and Provincial competitions.
  5. The play takes place in one location so the set is a simple living room design. The costumes are also simple making this an affordable play for your budget.
  6. The play runs 30 minutes so it is perfect for one act play competitions.
  7. The play offers diverse parts with 3 female and 3 male, 1 m or f role and up to 7 extras.
  8.  The play is perfect for Student Directed one act nights. It has become a favorite of casts and student directors. Student Directors love the message yet it presents a challenge they also embrace in directing.
  9. The play has an original theme song which may be performed with the play or used separately for opening track if you have musically inclined students.
  10. The playwright is very active in spotlighting your performances of the play and helping you to spread the message. The website offers many interviews, photos and video clips to help you with ideas for your performance. In addition, the playwright would consider it an honor to video chat with your troupe and answer questions about the play or writing process.
  11. The play is perfect for Community Theatres and Summer Theatre programs as well. Character ages range from tween to adult. Middle Schools, High Schools and Community Theatre groups have performed this long running play.
  12. The play offers a list of Directors who are willing to share their experiences with performing the play so this is a great piece for a new Director.
  13. The play closes with the statistics of suicide and the warning signs so it is educational as well as engaging. #13ReasonsWhy #Theatre4Change

Cartwright and Henry Gordon Academy: The Epitome of Theatre

IMG_0531[1]Henry Gordon Academy: A Year of Firsts

It’s been 20 years since the first actor brought Christopher David Borthwick to life. Over the years I have had the pleasure of seeing many casts make the play their own. Since May is the month that usually closes out the year for school performances, I wanted to pay a special tribute to The Henry Gordon Academy. This piece will be a longer spotlight than I’d ordinarily post, but this extraordinary group deserves it.

Who is this Group?IMG_0487[1]

Let us start from the beginning. First of all, this group is from Cartwright, Newfoundland and Labrador. A small coastal community, with about 500 citizens, that was only reachable by boat or airplane up until 10 years ago when the Trans Labrador Highway was built. The school, Henry Gordon Academy, has approximately 74 students and 9 teachers. The school participates in the annual senior high drama festival each Spring with a cast of 7 plus a teacher sponsor/director. This year, the special education teacher, Brittany Piercey, decided to take on the drama group. She held auditions in January and from there, the cast was selected. Something you need to know is that Cartwright is known for their comedies. Each year the audience expects Cartwright to make them laugh. However, this year Miss Piercey decided to push the students to try something different. Using the website for Publisher, Pioneer Drama, http://www.pioneerdrama.com, the cast narrowed down their options to 2 plays. But, the sample from “May I Have Attention, Please?” won them over and so the journey began.

Snowstorms, like REALLY BIG snowstorms, can’t stop this Troupe from their mission!IMG_0488[1]

The students have been practicing since late January/early February so they have had just over 3 months of practices and meetings during lunch, after school, on weekends and even through Facebook Chat during a snow storm! It has been quite the long journey, but also an amazing experience. The troupe can all agree that they chose this play mainly because it is eye opening to both the cast and audience because of the message it portrays. It gives the cast and the audience a lot of insight into the topic of teen suicide and mental health. It really struck the cast members hard because it showed how suicide impacts an individual and the thinking process that the person contemplating suicide goes through. Tyler Mugford, who plays Chris Borthwick, has talked about the emotional roller coaster ride his character takes him on, which is exhausting both mentally and physically. As you can tell from the video of the performance, the play also shows how suicide impacts others, based on the audience’s reactions. Numerous people who have seen the play performed by the Ponderosa Players have mentioned how they cried during the show because the actors were able to really portray the character’s emotions. We wanted to use the arts to help break down the stigma surrounding suicide and mental health, and we hope that we have done just that. Sandra Mugford explains what the process was like for her and her husband as they adjusted to the role their son, Tyler would play. “Oh my gosh how exciting! When Tyler told me about the play and his part in particular my first response was

“oh Tyler that’s a huge topic and a topic that some don’t like to talk about” and his response was “Mom that’s exactly why I want to do it..”

“Right from the start his intention was to spread the word… get the message out there… let people know that he is informed and there to help. This role in my opinion changed Tyler and coming from a little isolated town of 500 people he had something to prove and knew he could do it. His dad didn’t think he would be able to watch Tyler pull a gun to his head. It was, to say the least, a very emotional moment but he too, soon understood what Tyler was telling us. Tyler is a very passionate, giving, loving young man. He often thinks outside the box and when he is committed to or about something there’s no stopping him and really that’s why this part fit him to a T.. He tends to break things down and really thinks about what he is doing or what he has to do..We are so very proud of our son. He makes us proud everyday! To say we we’re over the moon when the group performed for the first time would be an understatement! The audience in Goose Bay responding like they did and to know people were moved to tears and his message was so huge it impacted them and he connected to so many… really there are no words. I remember his dad saying to me he did what he wanted to do! To win and have the opportunity to perform provincially in St. John’s NL at the prestigious LSPU Hall to share his message was a bonus. But to have the same happen there people responded in tears with a standing O and comments that he will forever carry with him! As a parents of this wonderful 18 year old young man we are so excited for what’s in store for him. He’s off to university in the fall and wants to be a English teacher and was told at the St. John’s festival not to give up acting that he is a natural with a bright future.. The sky is the limit for him and we will be with he every step of the way.” As for Tyler’s journey with the role, he had this to say, “Upon taking the role of Chris, I didn’t realize the impact I could have upon an audience with portraying him. I remember after we performed at Goose Bay for the Labrador Regionals and looking out at the audience and seeing people crying and wiping their tears with huge smiles across their faces, realizing they too had experienced the emotional roller coaster the Borthwick Family had gone through, to know it was my doing. I quickly realized just how much Chris can impact people.

It was truly an eye opening experience for me and my friends. I encourage those who play the role of Chris Borthwick to be ready to change people’s lives. Don’t pick this play because it has a chance to win a festival, pick this play because it has the ability to change people’s lives! Winning is just icing on the cake.”

First Time Winner of Regionals! Now how do we raise $20,000?IMG_0182[1]

This was the first year, in 41 years, that Cartwright has won the regional drama festival. It is also the first time in HGA history that the school has attended provincials. But attending provincials required raising $20,000 in just a couple of months in a community of 500 citizens and a school of 74 students and 9 teachers. As crazy as it sounds in this day and age, there are communities who still come together to make dreams possible for causes they believed in. There were raffles and throw a pie in the face of a Ponderosa Player or Community members. Yes, Even the Mayor! The coming together of the community seems commonplace in Cartwright because this same community welcomed home the Ponderosa Players with fireworks and hugs! It’s that kind of support that if every community could claim, there truly would be no child left behind. We want to extend a huge thank you to the parents, HGA, the community of Cartwright, and all of the amazing individuals and groups that helped make this experience possible. We were overwhelmed with all the support we received and the trip would not have happened without you all. Parent, Sandra Mugford confirmed the support of the communith for all students, “From a communities perspective we have often heard it takes a village to raise a child. There are no truer words for the community of Cartwright.. Our children are lifted up, supported and loved. Any child in this community knows they can go to any household if they need help or to make a phone call to their parents for a ride home. It’s absolutely amazing.”

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And they were off to St. Johns!IMG_0478[1]

They performed the first night of the three day festival as the final play of the evening but not before doing a radio interview with CBC. Another amazing feature of their performance was the announcement that parent, Sandy Mugford could Facebook Live the performance so all in the community could tune in as well as the playwright who lives in the US. The live video has been watched over 2000 times and there were as many as 115 viewers at one time watching live from all over the world. The world was watching as the final line was said and the theatre erupted into thunderous applause and a standing ovation. It was the only standing ovation of the night. There was no shortage of tears as the audience hugged each other and awaited greeting the cast.

So what? A Group of kids took a trip by plane. Big Deal!18222657_10155705512170639_7838419098684323063_n

Why spend so much money on the Arts and a program of 7 students? What could they have gained that was worth $20,000? Couldn’t the money have been spent to help more students? While these questions often are encountered by Arts’ Departments worldwide, one must look at how many the money really impacted. We have the 7 students, 1 teacher and 2 parents who attended. Add to that all those who watched the home performance. Add to that all the students who watched the performance at Regionals and Provincials plus the Judges and all who watched Facebook Live and all those who saw it and will tell someone else about it. Beginning to see the benefit of funding the ARTS? This experience has helped the cast realize their potential on stage. It has opened up doors to more serious theatre work and to perform more plays that handle serious topics. It has also inspired so many other students. Wanda Lee Mesher, another parent member whose son Marcus played Charlie and is the youngest member (Age 13) of the Ponderosa Players adds that Marcus has never looked back after being hesitant at first. ” This was Marcus’ first year in Drama. When he saw the auditions posted at school, he ran up to his older sister in the hall and said “Sis, should I do Drama??” And she asked him if he wanted to and he said yes, so she said “OK, well do it! Like many of the actors, the characters took some time to be brought to life. Marcus did find it hard at times, with his character, because he was supposed to laugh at Chris in the video and think he was funny. He knew there was nothing funny about it, and Miss had to remind him a few times that he was playing a character and that it was ok. I’m really proud of my boy and I’ve seen him grow and mature so much through this experience. I know this is just the beginning for him and I know he’ll be auditioning again next year!” and Marcus isn’t the only one who is showing a continued interest. Since returning from provincials, the younger students have been approaching Miss Piercey, expressing their excitement to join drama and even saying that they want to be actors/actresses when they grow up. This have been an amazing opportunity to inspire the youth in Cartwright to really give their all when it comes to their passions because they are achievable!18157194_10156239136433677_2694469351711551735_n

While at Provincials, the students were able to participate in numerous workshops, such as song writing, pacing, stage combat, and more! They were able to meet other youth all across the province of Newfoundland and Labrador and make new friends that will last a lifetime! They were also able to meet published playwrights, popular musicians in the St. John’s area, and see the province’s capital city as an artistic outlet. They got to participate in fun activities like lasertag, escape rooms, and a fun place called Axtion, where you can climb rock walls, and they even got to try new foods and restaurants that they normally wouldn’t be able to, like the Keg.

Overall, this experience has brought us closer together as a group. While we are sad that it is over, it really is just the beginning as these kids get to pass on the torch to the younger students. In addition, a huge thank-you goes out to Catherine Rhoden-Goguen for writing this play. We appreciate all of the support we received from her on this journey. We hope we have done justice to your play and the characters.

Listen to our MessageIMG_0490[1]

We just want to say that if anyone out there is struggling or battling suicide, please reach out for help. There is always someone willing to listen, even if it is one of the cast members! You are valued. You are worth it. So please, ask for help! #Theatre4Change

CBC Radio Interview with HGA

May I Have Your Attention, Please? Cast

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Chris Borthwick – Tyler Mugford

Brent Borthwick – Aaron Dyson

Jill Borthwick – Kiana Dyson

Abby Holland – Heidi Pardy

Patty Borthwick – Claire Sainsbury

Keith Borthwick – Andrew Pardy-Paul

Charlie – Marcus Ward

Director – Miss Brittany Piercey

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             TylerMugford

Best Dramatic Actor

 

 

So this is where the fairytale ends and since they spread their message well, all LIVE happily ever after!18448022_10156261146993677_753518480_n

Collin Walters of Midland Valley High received the Best Actor Award

Garcia Theatre Project

As part of the 15th annual Garcia Theatre Project, students from North Augusta, Midland Valley, Ridge Spring-Monetta and South Aiken high schools participated in workshops, including an improvisational class taught by USCA theater students, in the morning. In the afternoon, actors and technicians from each school presented a one-act play.
After their performances, students received awards.

Plays performed were:

“Baggage” by Christian Kiley at 12:30 p.m.: Ridge Spring-Monetta Middle/High School; Kerry Jackson, faculty representative

“Rats!” by Agatha Christie at 1:25 p.m.: South Aiken High School; Ramona Parsons, faculty representative

“May I Have Your Attention Please?” by Catherine Rhoden-Goguen at 2:20 p.m.: Midland Valley High School; Stephanie Trotter, faculty representative

“Bernice Bobs Her Hair” by D.D. Brooke at 3:15 p.m.: North Augusta High School; Carol Creamer, faculty representative

Karol Stewart of South Aiken High was named Best Student Director, and Kiara Gamble of Midland Valley High received an Honorable Mention as Student Director.

All-Star Cast members were as follows: Latashia Lockett, Ridge Spring-Monetta High; Caroline Pethick, South Aiken High; Reggie Vinson, Midland Valley High; Jaxen Coleman, Midland Valley High; Courtney Van-Eck, Ridge Spring-Monetta High; Maurice Milton, North Augusta High; Zach Phillips, South Aiken High; and Joel Napier, North Augusta High.

The project started 15 years ago as a partnership between the theater program at USCA and the Public Education Partners, which supports public schools, to promote theater in the Aiken County Public Schools. A few years later, Carlos and Karen Garcia agreed to sponsor the event.

“We wanted an opportunity for theater to be performed in the high schools, so we started this one-act play festival,” Benjamin said.

Student Director at the Helm of Arts Activism in Mississippi

Ariel William will see the fruition of her work take the stage May 3, 2017 as Mississippi School of Math and Science in Columbus, MS brings May I Have Your Attention, Please? to the stage. William has the distinction of being the first student director for May I Have Your Attention, Please? in her state.

‘The students have enjoyed working on the play, and embrace its activism.” Dr. Easterling

The cast has been so gracious as to give us a sneak peak from their rehearsals as they prepare to spread the message via this play. They plan to utilize counselors at their school to answer any questions at the conclusion of the play. What a great way to start the dialogue that may change or save a life. #BreakLegs and thanks for using the Arts for Activism!  #Theatre4Change

 

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Jackson Sparkman (Chris Borthwick)

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(l to r): Calvin Hu (Keith Borthwick); Cloie Garris (Lilly Borthwick), Brenda Borthwick (Sage Schaumburg), and Antonio Kingston (Mikel     Sandifer)

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Eilse Cook (Charlie); Wrishija Roy (Jill Borthwick)

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