WHEATLAND – Thespian Troupe 605, otherwise known as the Wheatland High School Drama Club, performed their fall show to a masked, distanced audience last week. The cast has been working and rehearsing since school began back in August.
The first half of the performance were individual and duet projects for State Drama Festival. They will be recorded and sent into a virtual competition program this year. Contrasting monologues were performed by Raegan Ehde and Rory Winter. Grace Hanni sang a song from the musical, “The Bridges of Madison County.” Megan Cecil and Becca Crowley performed a scene from Oscar Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest,” and Raegan Ehde and Quinn Lawrence acted a scene from the “Trial of Mary Dugan.”
The second half as a one-act play, “Our Place,” by Terry Gabbard. A collection of short scenes taking place at different eras, each vignette was preceded by a slide show featuring the cast members and their families. The show pulled some heartstrings as several audience members were seen wiping away tears and passing tissues but there were several lighthearted moments that brought forth laughter.
This year’s show had some added difficulties in getting up and running. Thirteen-year veteran coach, Kalyn Krotz, is in her first year as head coach after the retirement of Merlin Hitt last summer. There were some unique challenges this year.
“Working within the confines of Covid has been challenging with kids being quarantined and missing rehearsals for weeks at a time. Speaking and diction are hard with high school students under the best of circumstances, having to wear masks is even harder,” Krotz explained. “Not knowing whether or not we were even going to have a show. There’s the financial side to worry about. Are we going to have an audience? Will we be able to pay for the royalties of the show? So the contributions from the community have been more important than ever this year than ever before. We are very humbled that people are still contributing to us when we know they are struggling too.”
Most kids are drawn to drama for a chance to be onstage. Some are just looking for a place to fit in.
“Getting to portray someone that isn’t myself is one of reasons I’m in drama,” commented Quinn Lawrence. “You go through your whole day being the same old person. But in drama, you can be someone entirely different.”
Megan Cecil agreed, “It’s fun to experience someone else’s life for a little bit and also watching people’s reactions to how you portray characters.”
“It’s fun, the people are happy and fun, it’s a good group of kids,” junior Grace Hanni said with an echo of agreement from the other members of the group. “I also love the thrill of being onstage. I get really nervous right before, but once I’m onstage, it’s really fun.”
When it comes to drama at Wheatland High School, participants don’t just pick one area- they do it all. When they are cast in a play, they learn acting techniques and their lines, but they are also expected to come in on weekends and help build the set or pull costumes and props. Everyone chips in to make the show happen. And along the way, friendships are built right alongside set pieces.
“I was born with a drill in my hands so building stuff just comes naturally, “said Damien Bohndorf. “I got dragged into it and now that I’ve been here a while, these people are all my friends now. This is the most fun I’ve had doing an after-school activity in years.”
“Sometimes I get really annoyed (building sets), but it makes you stronger and know how to use a drill and stuff like that,” Hanni added.
“I hate painting,” Robert Hendon said with a growl. “But I get to be myself here. And there’s food. I also love driving Kalyn crazy.”
The group will be finishing up state projects through the month of December with awards being in January. Soon after, the group will start working on their spring show which is undecided as of now. Krotz is looking forward to the year ahead.
“I’m really excited. We’ve got a great group of kids. They’ve worked hard and are doing some really great things. I’m really excited to see what else we can do.”