Pinkerton’s Advanced Theatre Making students’ production of Everybody was awarded Best Production at the NHETG Regional Festival held at Concord High school on Saturday, March 7. Although many of their competitors had put in months of rehearsal, the student actors
were given three and a half weeks to prepare the complex show and only one full run-through of the production under the 40-minute time limit before the judged performance. It was through the efforts of an incredibly talented cast and crew that the class was able to rally together and pull off what proved to be a successful production.
For many members of the cast, the Saturday event was their first time attending an NHETG Festival. Unsure of what to expect, they were greeted by an energetic and welcoming atmosphere, the goal of which, according to NHETG President Scott Giessler “is to create a place where students can come together and share their love of theatre and their works, [as well as] get professional feedback, and leave the day energized about their passion for performance.”
Due to the open and accepting atmosphere of the Festival, many schools decided to present more controversial material than that usually seen in high school theatres. Shows focused on racism, death, social commentary, and even school shootings. Concord High School performed the heartbreaking 26 Pebbles, which portrayed the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, and John-Stark presented The Other Room a show highlighting the social challenges that come from living a life with Autism. Pinkerton’s Everybody was a morality play that pushed the envelope by discussing the randomness of death and the importance of living a good life.
“Festival is a great opportunity for Pinkerton to explore material that we could never include as part of the PA Players’ season as they really need to focus on large cast shows that have the ability to be crowd-pleasers.” Reflected Advanced Theatre Making instructor Mathew Cahoon. “Since you don’t really have to worry about cast size or ticket sales for festival shows, you can pick work that is more challenging. Also, and this is probably the most important to me, I set out this semester with the intention of exploring plays that illuminate the human experience, and I think Everybody does that wonderfully.” There were many moments within Pinkerton’s show where characters were emotionally broken down, leaving the audience questioning the meaning of life and death.
Throughout the day, students performing and watching the challenging subject material had their abilities as actors and audience members tested. A student from Concord High School who wishes to remain anonymous said that “standing on stage and delivering heartbreaking lines while you can hear audience members crying is hard. But [26 Pebbles is] a story that needs to be told, so I’m glad I’m able to tell it.”
When it comes down to it, student actors seem to agree that school theatre groups should perform plays with deeper meanings more often. Korbin Rasmus, a senior here at PA believes that “Theater has been brought through a history of telling stories. People are made to tell stories and there are also bad stories along with good ones and happy ones. There’s always going to be a tragic story and these stories also need to be told.”
Pinkerton Academy’s Advanced Theatre students will continue to challenge their audiences to question morality as Everybody moves on to the State Festival this April.