Don’t Miss Theatre 370’s Student Directed One Acts!

J.D. O’Gara
Black Box Style Shows to Take Place February 8th and 9th
Issue Date: 
February, 2019
Article Body: 

What started as a fun, end of year event for Theatre 370 students following their spring production has turned into a winter event that, because it’s sold out each year, says Holliston High School Drama Director Courtney Bottomley, has now added another night. Student-Directed One-Acts, which began before Bottomley assumed her position, will take place Friday, February 8th and Saturday, February 9th this year, with black box seating (so space is limited). Admission is $5 to the event, and the snow dates are February 14th and 15th (you can keep updated on social media at @Theatre370 or on the Theatre 370 page on the Holliston High website).
This year, six students are directing the performances. These include four seniors, Lindsay Hecker, Laura Keen, Julia Giusti-Kizik, and Katie North, plus one junior, Liv Skerry and one sophomore, Daniel Slade. The six were chosen from a pool of students who wrote or considered plays for submission and explained what they hoped to do with the piece and why they chose it.
“Three are student written plays and three are previously written works,” says Bottomley. “We always try to show a variety of styles and tones. For our comedies, we have the modern struggles between a teacher and her students in an average English classroom, what life is like for three sets of twins still in the womb, how a young man tries to win the Game of Life using someone else’s rule book and how high school rejection can still sting, even as the whole world is coming to an end. Our dramas cover stories about one young woman’s survival of the Holocaust and how a group of young people cope while living in a single, enclosed room of white.”
After the shows are approved, directors cast their own actors, set their own rehearsal schedules outside of school, and also choose their costumes, props and set pieces.
A fun twist in performing these One-Acts, says Bottomley, is that students work on them while in rehearsal for other shows, so they must use furniture and props they already have on hand in their storage room, along with lights, etc.
Junior Liv Skerry is Theatre 370’s One-Acts student coordinator this year. Her sister, Alycia, was one of the students involved in the original SDOA’s for students in 2013, which developed as an opportunity for students to showcase their writing and directing talents.
“Last year, as a director, (Liv) exhibited qualities needed for this job – drive and organization being two of the top ones. She also had insight into improvements that could be made as we expand and refine the program,” says Bottomley, who says she found her own love of directing back when she was in high school. The Drama Director says she often has a good feeling about how students will do in directing their peers through opportunities throughout the year for students to show leadership skills such as being a student producer, an assistant director, or heading up a technical group.
As Student Advisor/Coordinator, I’m here for the directors and the actors,” says Skerry. “I help directors with anything they might need, including organization and stage time. I also work with Ms. Bottomley to organize the logistics of the show nights.” Skerry, a junior this year, will hold the role again next year as a senior.
Bottomley says she hopes to give her students a chance to try their hand at directing, “to use what they’ve observed and worked on as actors and for them to see what life is like on the other side of the table – to make the difficult decisions that are, in the end, the best for the production. Peer-to-peer direction is much different than what I do as their teacher. It’s an invaluable skill to learn, how to work with each other, how to bring everyone together and work towards a live performance. How to inspire others. There is also nothing quite like the joy you feel, seeing your vision of a whole show come together.”
Skerry adds that she recommends “everyone to come see the shows, not only previous patrons, but anyone looking for entertainment. These shows display creativity, maturity and the overall hard work of 50+ high school students who are ready to show everyone their progress over these last few months!”
Bottomley agrees. “While I view this program from an educational lens, there is something to be said for our encouraging audiences who come out and support these students in all their creative endeavors,” she says.