Evening of theater in Hortonville
By Scott Bellile
The Hortonville High School Drama Department is taking on a new approach – a “night of scenes” – with its spring play, “When Life Gives You Lemons.”
In an effort to challenge their young actors, co-directors Kristen Jobe and Joshua Bishop selected scenes from several plays that fit an overlying theme, as opposed to doing one entire show.
The scenes all revolve around characters facing adversity and asking themselves, “When life gives you lemons, what do you do?” They must look for the good in their troubling situations.
The play runs for three shows this weekend: Friday, Feb. 17 at 7 p.m., and Saturday, Feb. 18 at 3 and 7 p.m.
Jobe and Bishop have both helped out with HHS’s musicals and show choir in the past, but for both this is the first time helming a production.
“We really wanted to do something different,” Jobe said. “We felt as though the kids especially know how to do farce. We do it kind of a lot, and it’s no longer challenging, and it’s no longer necessarily an environment in which they were really pushed to learn different things through different mediums. So we chose a night of scenes to expand upon that.”
Two scenes from Robert Harling’s “Steel Magnolias” will open and close the play. Sandwiched in between are single scenes from William Shakespeare’s “As You Like It;” Ruth and Augustus Goetz’s “The Heiress;” Frederick Knott’s “Wait Until Dark;” “Always a Bridesmaid” by Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope and Jamie Wooten; and “The Normal Heart” by Larry Kramer.
Jobe said she and Bishop gave the students a college-level scene study course to get them comfortable with the journey. The scenes capture “very human” feelings familiar to everyone, yet actors will confront unique topics they probably haven’t before. Among them, diabetes in a pre-insulin era, the AIDS epidemic and finding hilarity in friendships during crises.
“We have challenged these kids with so many things all at one time that it’s incredible to watch them not only accept those challenges but to run with them,” Jobe said.
Anyone looking to attend should pre-order tickets. The audience will be limited to 150 seats per show.
Jobe said HHS plays draw smaller crowds than musicals do, so they took advantage of that reality by shrinking the capacity and creating an intimate setup. The actors will perform on a “black box” style, three-sided stage on the back half of the auditorium’s stage. The audience will sit onstage immediately around this setup, rather than out in the auditorium. Actors will sometimes walk within 3 feet of audience members.
Senior Sara Cooper admitted the idea of being next to the audience was intimidating at first. Yet sophomore Andi Bryant said the togetherness somehow makes the uneasiness go away once everybody becomes immersed in the moment.
As hair and makeup lead, senior Hannah Goulet does not act in “When Life Gives You Lemons,” but she said she enjoys the closeness and spirit the cast share for an experience Hortonville has never had before.
While HHS is trying something new, Jobe said it will not feel too unfamiliar to the community.
“I think it will be more similar [to a traditional play] than perhaps the majority of people are expecting it to be,” Jobe said. “There’s still an arc within the scenes. It’s not a whole bunch of scenes that don’t make sense together.”
Seating is first come, first served general admission. Tickets may be purchased through www.hasd.org or at the door. General admission costs $10 and students and seniors are $8.