Like Shakespeare, I’ve always believed that “brevity is the soul of wit.” I’ve never told a joke or anecdote in my entire life, but if you need a snappy one-liner, I’m your guy. It’ll take me a while to get through a full-length novel, but give me a book of short stories or essays, and I’m a happy camper. I could sit through two or three episodes of the same TV series in a row, but a two-plus hour movie? Snoozeville. Heck, I’ve pretty much made a career out of something called ‘30 Seconds.’ Talk about a short attention span.
That’s why I look forward to the Sherburne-Earlville Drama Club production every fall, in which director Colleen Law-Tefft marches her junior thespians through an evening of one-act plays. Short, witty and rapidly-paced, the dozen or so short plays are perfect for those like myself with attention deficit disorder. Whether you’re really engrossed by one or not so into it, another will be along in ten minutes.
This year’s show, being staged tonight and Saturday at 7 p.m., is called “Deja Vu.” Literary genius that I am, it wasn’t until I sat through the first half of the show in dress rehearsal last night that I realized what the title meant. I could have sworn I’d seen that “Ferris Wheel” one-act before, but not with Nicole Carpenter and Brent Guiles. I go to a lot of high school plays ... maybe it was in another school district? No, Sherlock, “Deja Vu” means that most of the plays in this weekend’s show have been done in past S-E productions. Given that Law-Tefft has been at this over a dozen years, it’s likely that, like me, you’ll only have vague recollections of them. Nonetheless, it’s always great to see something done with a fresh perspective, and that’s exactly what this year’s S-E troupe does.
Aside from the “repeats,” two of the night’s episodes are true originals – not just new to the S-E stage, but written by S-E students themselves. Before last night’s rehearsal got underway, I had a brief chat with both of the Marauder authors.
Eleventh grader Lulu Riley is full of energy, even for a teenager. An experienced actor in her own right, she set out to use that skill set as a playwright. “Sometimes what you see on stage is super dramatic,” Riley said. “It’s not that way in real life.” In penning her play, “Hey Guys,” Riley was determined to keep it real. “I thought it was pretty natural to do a play about teenage girls at a slumber party,” Riley said, “and sleepover scenarios are all pretty much the same.” Riley’s thrilled with the actors she’s directing in her play. “It’s pretty cool to see it come to life,” she said.
Senior Elizabeth Taylor is presenting her second one-act play on the S-E stage this year. Switching gears from the darker effort of last year, Taylor goes for romantic comedy this weekend with “A Fairy Tale Love.” “This one’s really short and light-hearted, compared to the murder and mayhem of last year,” Taylor observed. Also an actor, Taylor draws on those experiences when directing the students starring in her own play. Directing her peers has also given her a new appreciation for the work faced by Law-Tefft. “It definitely gives you a different perspective,” Taylor said. “As a director, you really have to go with the actors, working with them instead of against them, but sometimes I get so annoyed ... now I know what I’ve put Colleen through,” she said.
Besides Riley and Taylor, Law-Tefft also shares directing duties with students Taylor Morris, Rachel Waters and Isaac Mettler. Each were responsible for choosing their play and the casts, as well as production decisions involving lighting, sets, costumes and music.
Really, for five bucks, you can’t go wrong here. Once again, Colleen’s blessed with a wealth of burgeoning talent. My favorites were “Bed & Breakfast,” in which a blustery Eric Muth tries to kill his new bride, the suitably jittery Rachel Walters. And I laughed out loud in empathy with “My Name is Leslie,” in which three starving diners – Brent Guiles, Craig Natoli and Mike Holeck, try desperately, “Saving Private Ryan”-style, to get the attention of an errant waitress, played by Taylor Morris.
“Deja Vu” has 41 students on stage including: Ryan Bagnall, Kandace Barrows, Catherine Behret, Ethan Cameron, Nicole Carpenter, Amanda Clark, Joelle Clark, Delaney Cook, Tammie Crane, Margaret Dushko, Zoe Enscoe, Elizabeth Farrow, Geana Giglio, Brent Guiles, Alyson Hicks, Michael Holeck, Marni Horton, Molly Karaman, Claire Khoury, Mick Khoury, Mary Longman, Bobby Marvin, Megan Matott, Taylor Morris, Eric Muth, Haley Muth, Craig Natoli, Molly Ogden, Kayla Osterndorff, Lulu Riley, Megan Rogers, Emilee Smith, Matt Smith, Shannon Staley, Jacob Taylor, Liza Taylor, Kyle Tenney, Brad Ward, Rachel Walters, Hannah Weinell, and Gaven Wheeler.
Tickets are $5 and will be available at the door at the S-E High School auditorium, where the show starts at 7 tonight and tomorrow.