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Playing around: York County high schools hit the stage
There wasn't any rehearsal right then, but there were still a handful of students hanging out in the Spring Grove High School auditorium waiting for rehearsal to start in the next hour.
Claire Shubert, director of the school's fall play and the high school's family consumer science teacher, gave them a few tasks to do to keep them busy, like getting costume pieces out of her car.
"This is a second home for a lot of them," Shubert said.
For a lot of students who aren't interested in sports or other clubs, getting involved in the school play can allow them to explore a variety of interests. Even for students who aren't interested in acting, there are other jobs such as writing, directing, working on costumes, set design or lighting that can appeal to them, Shubert explained.
Jeremiah Hicks, a 16-year-old junior at Spring Grove High School and an actor in this fall's play, said he has made a number of friends through the plays he has been involved in the last two and a half years. He also said that acting, singing and dancing have pushed him outside his comfort zone to realize talents he didn't even know he had.
"When I’m trying to be a certain character, I sometimes learn things about myself that I never knew before," Hicks said, mentioning that his involvement in a musical helping him realize he could sing and dance. "I used to not be that type of outgoing person, but I learned I could do that pretty easily."
Education in drama: Spring Grove's fall play will be "Midsummer Jersey," a take on William Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" that takes place on the Jersey Shore. Shubert chose the play after finding out that it was written by Ken Ludwig, a York Suburban graduate. The students wanted a comedy, and Shubert wanted to do something linked to Shakespeare, so the play fit perfectly.
Shubert explained that she tries to pick plays that students will learn from, too. With this year's fall play, students will be able to learn more about Shakespeare, and because the play will draw costume design and music from the '60s, they will learn a lot about that era too. Shubert said they've had discussions in rehearsals about some of the politics of that time.
Jamie Brandstadter, an English teacher at Dover Area High School and the director of the fall play, said she tries to pick plays that will be educational for her students as well. This fall, the school will perform "Our Town" by Thorton Wilder and will incorporate a number of scenes from the Dover area into the performance. Students are also working on a film project involving interviews of community members in the Dover area that will play between scenes of the play, giving them the opportunity to learn more about their local area.
In addition, "Our Town" is a part of Dover's curriculum, so the play is another opportunity for students to delve into material they're learning in class.
"It's totally different when kids can be a part of a story as a performance versus just reading it aloud in class together," Brandstadter said. "It just brings it to life."
Life skills: Being part of plays or other drama activities in high school can give students a number of skills that they may use in the future. One of those skills is collaboration, according to both Shubert and Brandstadter. Because so many diverse students are working creatively toward one goal, they quickly have to learn to work as a team.
"I think they learn things about being involved in a group with a common goal," Shubert said. "It's things they don't learn in the classroom."
Brandstadter also said that working on school plays helps students with common core standards for the PSSA exams, such as character analysis and character development.
"It's such an educational opportunity for them, and it brings literature to life for them," Brandstadter said. "Theater is an awesome subject because it involves so many other content areas: history; the arts, like makeup and set design; it involves psychology because you really have to think about the characters and who they are as people."
Theater can also inspire students to be leaders through positions such as stage managers and even directors and writers. Shubert, in addition to the fall play, also works with students to perform one-act plays near the holiday season that are written and directed at the student level.
Laura Ardner, a 17-year-old senior at Spring Grove High School and an actor in this fall's play, said the diversity of positions is one of the reasons she would encourage other students to get involved with their school plays.
"I see theater as there’s something for everyone," Ardner said. "If you don’t like being on stage you could be a part of the stage crew, costuming, tech crew or makeup. You get to make a lot of new friends with people who are a lot like you."
Often, theater can provide a place for quiet students to come out of their shell, which is one of Shubert's favorite parts about working with the students.
"I love seeing the kids who are quiet get involved," Shubert said. "I like seeing kids develop confidence in their abilities. That's a tough thing for teenagers."
Fall school plays throughout York County. All shows are in the high school auditorium:
Dallastown: "Tales from the Twilight Zone"
Performances: 7 p.m. Oct. 22 and 23, 2 p.m. Oct. 24
Tickets: Adults $7; seniors citizens, students and staff $5 with ID
West York: "Scream if You're a Survivor"
Performances: 7 p.m. Nov. 3 and 5
Tickets: Adults $5; students and senior citizens $4
York Suburban: "And Then There Were None"
Performances: 7:30 p.m. Nov. 3-5
Tickets: Adults $10, students $6
Kennard-Dale: Two one-act performances: "The Lottery" and "The Absolutely Insidious and Utterly Terrifying Truth about Cat Hair"
Performances: 7 p.m. Nov. 11 and 2 p.m., 7 p.m. Nov. 12
Tickets: $7 for everyone
William Penn: "Steel Magnolias"
Performances: at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 17 and 18
Tickets: Adults $5, students $3
South Western: "Night at the Wax Museum"
Performances: 7 p.m. Nov. 17-19
Tickets: $5 in advance, $7 at the door
Spring Grove: "Midsummer Jersey"
Performances: 7 p.m. Nov. 18 and 19, 2 p.m. Nov. 20
Tickets: Adults $8, students/kids/senior citizens $5, $2 more for preferred seating section
Central York: "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee"
Performances: 7:30 p.m. Nov. 18 and 19
Tickets: Available by reservation only by visiting www.cyhspad.com or calling 846-6789 ext. 1338
Dover: "Our Town"
Performances: 7 p.m. Nov. 18 and 19
Tickets: Students $5, everyone else $6
Susquehannock: "Peter and the Starcatcher"
Performances: 7 p.m. Nov. 18 and 19, 2 p.m. Nov. 20
Tickets: Adults $6; students/senior citizens $5; tickets $1 more at the door
Red Land: "Humbug High"
Performances: 7:30 p.m. Dec. 1-3
Tickets: $7 for adults, $5 for students
Hanover: "Elf Jr. The Musical"
Performances: 2 and 4 p.m. Dec. 2 and 3, 2 p.m. Dec. 4
Tickets: In advance, adults $8, students and children $6; tickets purchased at the door $2 more