The rehearsal's the thing

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

For most students at Oran High School, Monday's Columbus Day holiday was a day to relax. For the majority of students in the drama club, it was a chance to squeeze in an extra play practice.

The Scott County school is one of few small schools in the area that still attempts to perform a play each year, even though there isn't any stage in the gym or anywhere to store props.

But on Monday afternoon, none of that was an issue. There was finally enough time to practice without hurrying through lines so that one member could make sports practice or sell yearbook ads after school. And nobody else had booked the gym.

Practice started at 2 p.m. and the group spent about 90 minutes working through Act 1 of the two-act play "Whodunit and To Whom?"

Even with the day off school, there were still a few absentee actors who had to work or had scheduled other activities. Matt Seyer quickly stepped in to read the lines for Grip, a character played by Travis Randolph when Randolph had to leave halfway through the practice.

And since Seyer was already reading his lines as Police Officer 1, there came a scene when he read every other line -- in two distinct voices, one of them which sounded like the cartoon character Fat Albert.

Drama club adviser Madeline DeJournett didn't really like the Fat Albert sound because it was too hard to understand what Seyer's character was saying. But it was a voice he wanted to try out for the day.

"Sometimes they just take on a life of their own," DeJournett said of the roles students play.

Originally Seyer read the part of the police officer in a voice somewhat like Arnold Schwarzenegger's.

DeJournett usually gives her students some freedom to experiment with their characters. Each one must come up with their own costume, using the 1940s era as their fashion guideline since that's the period of the play.

As the students muddled through their lines in a gymnasium where the air wasn't moving, DeJournett would routinely stop the action and give directions.

Many of the students needed to speak louder or else the audience wouldn't hear them, she said. And their lines needed to be delivered in such a way that they were facing the audience and not standing with their backs to the crowd.

"You can't cross your body as you make the movements," she said. "It cuts the action off."

Take 122, she yells, and the practice begins again.

Students waiting to read their lines or who fill roles offstage sat on the floor or on a few bleachers that had been pulled out.

Michael Moore, assistant director, prompted Randolph and Tori St. Cin as they read through their lines in Act 1.

None of the students have mastered their lines yet and they only have a week left to do so. The performance is only a month away.

"I'll be so glad when they can put their books away," DeJournett said.

The day is coming soon -- the performance is Nov. 17.

Next: Performance night.

ljohnston@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 126

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: