Brett Billings, a sophomore majoring in English at Lafayette College in Easton, Pa., said this is the second year he and other students have participated in some type of show.
Of the other seven students involved in this year’s play, four attend Washburn University in Topeka: Isaac Guetersloh, a junior in political science; Lucy Collett, a freshman in speech pathology; Riley Ross, a junior in biochemistry; and Luke Bowers, a junior in chemical engineering.
Also participating were Cassy Legg, a sophomore in pre-med at Wichita State University; T.C. Edwards, a sophomore in Spanish and history at Butler Community College, El Dorado; and Emily Svoboda, a junior in pre-pharmacy at Creighton University, Omaha, Neb.
In addition to the actors, several current MHS students helped, including Brady Hudson, stage manager; Annie Whitaker, lights; Danae Edwards and Sarah Guetersloh, stage crew.
A common bond
Although diverse in their majors, the one common thread is their love for theater.
Killough supports their desire and has offered encouragement through the years.
“They are all incredible kids and want to help other students build a foundation for the arts,” she said.
Billing said, “Last year was the first year some of us has-beens—that is what we call our graduates after they graduate— put together a show to raise money.”
The money helped fund a trip to New York City for MHS drama students.
Unlike this year’s performance, last year the group did a radio show, he said.
“This is difficult to explain but it equates to a bunch of actors standing on stage with the scripts in their hands reading the story without the use of scenery, costumes, lighting, or anything that could visually enhance the show,” he said.
Prior to returning home for Christmas break, the actors were sent a copy of the script so they could familiarize themselves with the plays.
Once home, the students rehearsed for the next two weeks for about five hours each night at the Performing Arts Center, with Billings directing.
“The little-theater-movement angle was like a lot of things in theater, chosen because of practicality more so than wanting to expose an audience to the history.”
The one-act plays are easier to rehearse, memorize, block, stage and handle than a full play. They are all comedies, which Billings thought would appeal to the audience.
The selections included “Suppressed Desires,” by George Cram Cook and Susan Glaspell; “It Isn’t Done,” by Carl Glick and “A Question of Morality,” by Percival Wilde.
“Suppressed Desires” is a well-known play that satirizes psychoanalysis, Billings said.
“Today we consider it foundational, to a certain degree, to psychology, but I believe in this one-act the writers treat it very much like a passing fad,” he said.
“The characters, Henrietta and Stephen, are married and supposedly living contently, but when Henrietta’s interest in psychoanalysis is taken a bit too far, the action gets pretty funny,” he said.
“A Question of Morality”
The second one-act play, “A Question of Morality,” is what Billings called, “a cute piece.”
“No big questions are raised,” he said. “The character, Dorothy, elopes with another man leaving her husband, Billy, to figure out why he is having trouble letting her go.
“It seems Dorothy’s goodness has influenced Billy’s badness to the point where neither is recognizable to themselves. But, it has a happy ending.”
“It Isn’t Done”
The third play, “It Isn’t Done,” is a true piece of little theater gold, Billings said.
“I wonder why it’s a comedy but I suppose it could be interpreted that way,” he said.
The curtain opens on a poet who is writing very late at night, he said.
“When a policeman sees what is going on, he is taken aback and, even with the concurrence of character, Mr. Smith, that poetry might be dangerous if left unchecked, the policeman tries to arrest the poet for disturbing the peace.”
Thanks for support
Billings wanted to thank the community for its support. Although it’s unclear if the students are planning a third show, he did offer his thoughts about the past performance.
“I have found that these student actors and actresses do care about presenting a quality show and are willing to spend their time to help raise some money and have a little fun in the process, even if they are up until midnight (rehearsing),” he said.
Billings said he had expected 100 people would attend the play, but realized he could have done a better job of letting the public know about it.
Killough said she was pleased with the performance by the students and proceeds.
“We made $150, which will go toward the purchase of a $500 microphone,” she said.
For Killough, it’s not about the money or attendance, but more about how gratifying it is to see these students continue to care about the arts.
“It’s good to see our students coming back with a love of theater.