Thomasville City Schools Drama Program students have been named One Act Play Region 1-AA Champions for the fourth time in six years under the direction of Scholars Academy drama teacher Casey Dyksterhouse. After a community performance on November 10 at 7:00 p.m in the MacIntyre Auditorium, they will return to Milledgeville, Georgia where they aim to capture back-to-back State Champion titles at the GHSA One Act Play Competition.
The cast of “Peter/Wendy” produced an amazing ensemble performance and also racked up individual acting awards. Morgan Savatgy won Best Actress, Matthew Cline won Best Actor. And Mathew Whetsell won Best Actor in a Supporting Role.
“Peter/Wendy is a part of your childhood in that we all read or were read the story of Peter Pan when we were little. So it's a touch of childhood with a modern twist,” said Dyksterhouse.
When most people hear the names Peter or Wendy, they think of Disney's version of it: happy endings, fun, and adventure. Author Jeremy Bloom’s amazing and exciting version of the story is different. This show for starters is modeled more from the character originally created by Scottish playwright and novelist J.M. Barrie instead of Disney's. It’s darker and more abstract. It shows another side of Peter Pan and how it is unsettling that a person can't or even won't grow up.
Dyksterhouse was inspired to choose the play by Scholars Academy graduate India Jane Grimsley who now goes to Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee and is pursuing a degree in theatre. Grimsley did the show at Northwestern University over the summer at a camp, and she thought it would be perfect for the drama program. Dyksterhouse read it and saw all the potential in it. Grimsley even found the time to come back to teach them “how to fly” and do big stunts.
The lead roles are be played by sophomores Zack Artz (Peter Pan) and Morgan Savatgy (Wendy). Both agree that being in a lead role in the 10th grade can be scary at times, but they're excited to try to go and get another win for their school. Peter and Wendy’s characters are required to simulate flying and “walking the plank” only with the assistance of their fellow cast members’ lifts and movement. Savatgy knows that the success of the show depends on her overcoming her fears of being dropped by her fellow cast members.
“There are things you have to do in theater even if you don't want to, but you do it because of the love of theater,” said Savatgy.
Aside from their obvious goal to win, there are many small goals that they hope to accomplish for themselves and each other.
“My goal for the cast is for each and every one of them to learn to truly work as an ensemble, to learn how to trust one another, and to learn how to put differences aside to feel like one,” said Dyksterhouse.
The group has been in full swing with practices every weekend and most school days since the first few weeks of the school year. They have been constantly working on teamwork and trust. They do teamwork games and exercises before rehearsal to help with that.
There are a few big stunts that involve everyone being one and working together.
In addition to goals for themselves, they also have intentions for their audience. They hope that it will bring them joy and laughter but also make them think. They hope to make their school proud and to show them what they can do and how much work they put into the show.
Some seniors have taken on leadership roles. On the account of this show being a very physical one, Meredith Pearce helps with warm ups to make sure they don't get hurt.
”I try to help everyone be active and focus on what they need to be doing,” said Pearce.
Allison Wheeler helps with warming up their voices with small vocal exercises and doing tongue twisters. Kelly Long is the stage manager in the show and is always ready to help with what is needed. She does the Lost Boys’ hair, helps the crew, and times the show every run through. Finally they help with setting a good example backstage and in life being by someone the others can look up to.
After their big win as 2015 GHSA One Act State Champions with their performance of “Into the Woods,” they are under an immense amount of pressure to win again.
“After achieving something that great, it is almost expected from everyone which can be scary,” said Dyksterhouse.
Even if they don't win Dyksterhouse says as long as they have a lot of energy and have a thrilling performance she will still be proud of them. They want to prove that they are continuing the tradition of theatrical excellence even though some extremely talented actors graduated last year. This year they will be stepping into that same competition, and they want to leave with a State Championship trophy.
Drama Assistant Jessica Lewis hopes that the actors learn to take constructive criticism and turn it into a positive thing. Lewis shares Dyksterhouse’s positive priority that surpasses any trophy or title.
“No matter what I hope they have a good time and enjoy it; this is the time for them to have the time of their lives,”said Lewis.