The VHSL One Act theatre competition is one which Hidden Valley has not participated in for several years: this year, however, Joe Kavanagh the theatre coach is hoping to change that. The beginning steps were the auditioning processes, in which it was tough to seek out performers bold and ready to take the stage.
“There were two plays I was choosing between, one included three characters while the other had five. We decided that the play we used would be determined by how many people showed up to the audition. We ended up selecting the play which involves five, however, we were running into a bit of a casting problem. Three people showed up to our auditions, and they were all casted; they were all good. There were still two empty spots that needed to be filled, however, and so I had a second call. A fourth person showed up, and we had them read lines with the other three students, and they got the part! We were still on the search for one more participant.” Kavanaugh explained
It turns out nerves had gotten the better of some students when it came to auditioning, so Mr. Kavanaugh had the idea of bringing the audition, to them.
“So, I actually went to Dr. Neale’s class and he had three students in there who I think had just been nervous about auditioning. Basically, we thought, if we can’t get people to come to the auditorium, we’ll take the audition to them. I had two people already in the play read lines with each of the classmates, and then finally we got everything cast last week,” he said, “It was a long drawn out process but it worked!”
The theme of the play this year focus’s on mental health and important issues like anxiety and depression.
“The play is called Veronica’s dolls, and it’s based on a toy story type situation. Veronica, who is fourteen years old has a Raggedy Ann doll, a Chatty Cathy, a Barbie doll (named Barbara), and teddy bear. Veronica never actually appears in the play, instead it centers around her toys. In the story, the toys start to suspect that Veronica is going through some tough times, and they find blood on the back of the bear’s head. The bear claims that Veronica has been cutting herself and they get very worried. The toys also discover an empty sleeping pills bottle. They start to worry that veronica has overdosed on sleeping pills and wants to die. The group has to figure out how to get help. Though the toys can talk to each other, they can’t talk to other people. Eventually they decide to call 911, but the only toy that can talk to people is Chatty Cathy. If you pull her string she speaks. So using Veronica’s cellphone, they jump on the buttons 911, and they pull on Cathy’s string until she gets the right message across which is “I hurt myself, I hurt myself.” At the end of the play you here the sirens which are police officers coming to help. The play deals with a lot of important issues that people are dealing with like anxiety and depression in a sweet sort of way,” Kavanaugh said.
This year, the group of performers has to record and submit their final performance and they are practicing by having rehearsals every week.
“We have been having rehearsals on Wednesday afternoons and will hopefully be off book by the end of this week. Once you have your lines memorized, people start to focus and figure out who their character truly is. That’s one of the biggest tricks to this play, giving these toys personality,” Kavanaugh expressed. “In years past a high school has hosted the event but this year due to COVID-19 we have to record and submit our performance. We can record it several times to get used to the process but our final version has to be unedited, we can’t cut and paste to make it work, it has to be recorded all the way through. That final recording is due April 10th,” he mentioned.
Even though a recording will be submitted this year, Mr. Kavanaugh is hoping for some sort of live performance to take place.
“We are considering broadcasting the play so other folks at school could see it. If it were possible to do it as a live production, I would love to do that. With COVID-19 we’re still not sure if it’ll work. There’s something wonderful about having the audience applaud at the end, after all the hard work that goes into it. It really feels good as a performer to feed off of the energy of having an audience,” said Kavanaugh.”
Overall the VHSL One Act Play competition is a great opportunity for students at Hidden Valley to perform and practice their art. Hopefully the performers will be able to have a live or broadcasted show and even with the changes this year, VHSL One Act will be a fun experience to remember.