TRUCKEE, Calif. - Last year Truckee High School's Drama Club did something new and unusual. Rather than developing a fall play, they created vignettes consisting of scenes from movies, monologues and poetry that explored relationships of all kinds. The result was phenomenal! The community members who were fortunate enough to see it last year have been eagerly waiting for this year's performance hoping for a similar layout. This year's "Life and Other Disasters" is the same format with an even deeper delving into the issue of life's most comedic, tragic, romantic and at-times disastrous adventures.
I had the chance to speak with a handful of cast members and Director Peggy Boelk, who shared the following: "Last year's program was so well received we decided to do something similar this year, which means we have no 'leads' - every student has an equal part as either performing a monologue or a scene. We use proceeds from this program to help fund the annual Spring Musical which is a much more costly operation. It is our hope that our community will come out to support this performance so we are able to fund the 2013 musical."
Boelk has been working with students Calvin Brady, Kaelyn York, Justine Blide, Savannah Wilkinson, Ysabel Rina, Liam Forsyth, Mayra Islas and Mikayla Mattocks for years now, and for this production she has them reaching very deep to capture the raw emotion that it takes to carry some of the heavier scenes. When they recommend the program for ages 13 and up, they are not kidding. So while we highly encourage everyone in the appropriate age range to attend, we also want to make sure everyone understands they are in for an exploration of topics that are not always comfortable.
Fortunately Boelk knows how to break things up with levity which is why the comedic pieces come along just when the audience may need it most. I asked student actors what their favorite scenes or monologues were (and why) and was surprised to see how much support there was among them for each other.
No one chose their his or her scene as a favorite, and you could see clearly a community had been created among these talented students who are holding each other to the highest standards for this performance. A few of them noted they had been pushed to the brink of tears on more than one occasion. I looked to Boelk, who raised her eyebrows and held her palms us as if to say "well what do they expect?" We may be a small town but this is no "small show" - student actors are being expected to perform as professionals and Boelk is ensuring that is what the audience is going to see.
Calvin Brady said he enjoyed directing the scene "Almost Main" because he could see how far each of the three actors had come, or will willing to go to get the piece just right. Justine Blide really enjoys playing a character that is so completely different from her real self. Mikayla Mattocks remarked about the power of Kaelyn York's character, the trouble she is in and how many people she knows struggle with the same kind of demons.
Boelk and the students want everyone to know that no matter what your background, what you have been through or what you may be going through, there is a scene or a monologue that you will connect with.
Beyond the enjoyment of seeing a very high level group of talented student actors perform thought-provoking scenes, by attending this performance you (the patron) are helping to support one of the only drama programs in the region. Truckee's Drama Club has to rely completely on donations and public support to exist. Truckee High is one of the only high schools in the area to offer any kind of drama program, and it is imperative that we help them to keep it alive.
Performance times for "Life and Other Disasters" are as follows: 7 p.m. on Thursday. Jan. 10; 7 p.m. on Jan. 11; and two showings at 2 and 7 p.m. on Jan. 12, all at the Truckee High Auditorium.
- Raine Howe is executive director of Arts For the Schools.