Students at Wallenpaupack Area High School will present a new kind of theater to the public in the upcoming weeks when they present "The Process" November, 29, 30 and December 1 and 2 in the Black Box Theatre.
The production will be an improvisational play based on theater strategy often practiced in classrooms, says WAHS drama teacher, Allison Hoffmann. Improvisational drama is used to explore character, do problem solving and learn subject matter, Hoffmann explains.
This type of show, Hoffmann says, is "long and drawn out improvisation" where characters are created and go through "different trials and tribulations" over a period of time. The students, Hoffmann says, are greeted with different obstacles, which may give them new insight into characters as the play goes on.
Normally, improvisational acting is not performed for an audience, but because WAHS students love it so much, the fall show will be based on it.
Hoffmann says every improvisational play is unique, because the actors do not use scripts, like they would with traditional plays or musicals. With each performance, things within the show may change as new situations arise or characters say different things.
Aside from playing the lead roles, seniors Kait Kresse and Luke Bond will also be facilitators, which Hoffmann explains is typically her role in the classroom while doing process drama. The seniors will be mediators within the show, helping the other students and making sure the show runs smoothly.
To Kresse, she says this kind of show is more complicated than any other show she has been part of because of what the actors have to be aware of with the changing of lines. She adds that she is usually "mentally exhausted" once done with play practice because the actors have to keep thinking on their feet.
Bond agrees that the acting is more tiring because the actors have to continuously come up with their own lines throughout the production. But, Bond also says he finds the kind of play to be a lot more fun because of the "freedom to do what you want and be who you want." Usually, actors are given lines and have to stay true to them, he says, but now, the students will be able to make their characters into whomever they want, as long as they are realistic to the show.
The plot of the play is a surprise, but an additional twist is that there will be a point where the audience will have the opportunity to be part of the show, if they want.
Kresse calls the plot a "little extreme and weird to grasp at first." The students have been given a character, but they are responsible for creating a name and the character’s background information.
When Bond first heard of the play he says it was "weird and strange." But, as long as the students believe the play to be true, Bond says the audience will believe too. The play is an opportunity for people to expand their imaginations, he says.
Rehearsals have consisted of more than just practicing scenes, because there was a large emphasis on practicing improvising so the students will be able to think on their "feet, accept ideas and believe" what they were doing Bond says. The students had to play "weird games and stuff" so they will be able to work with each other’s ideas on stage, in order for there to be a "beginning, middle and an end of the story" he adds.
Aside from the provisional acting, Bond is excited about the Black Box, with a new element of being "in the round," where the audience completely surrounds the actors as they perform.
Kresse says being in the round is much different than being on stage because the actors will have to use tactics of balancing the stage and different ways of facing the audience so no audience member ever misses something.
Bond says being in the round is "intricate and really different" because the audience will be much closer and so the actors will be able to see peoples’ reactions. He says the round is "very different, but very exciting at the same time."
Performances will be Nov. 29, 30 and Dec. 1 at 7 p.m. and Dec. 2 at 2 p.m. in the Black Box Theatre. Tickets are $5.00, but senior citizens are free. There are no reservations, but it is suggested that people arrive an hour prior to show time because there is limited seating in the Black Box.