West Hartford’s Hall High School Theatre Program has been chosen as one of just 40 schools from throughout the United States to perform this August at the world renowned Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
By Katie Cavanaugh
Hall High School’s Theater Program will head to Europe later this month as one of just 40 schools from the United States performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the largest performance festival in the world.
According to Sean Harris, Hall’s Director of Theater, this will be Hall’s third time performing at the festival. They will also take a stop in London before traveling to Scotland. “The students’ job is to absorb as much theater as possible,” said Harris.
While performing at an event with such a high caliber of actors, it may seem hard to stand out from the crowd. That being said, Hall is bringing something very unique to the table.
“What makes us really different this year is that there are pieces of these kids in the piece,” said Harris.
The students collaborated with a playwright, Arlene Hutton, to devise a completely original theater piece. “Some of it is biographical, and some of it is what the students’ friends went through,” said Harris. “It is a collage of experiences.”
The play addresses difficult issues that teens face such as sexual assault, date rape, homophobia, sending naked pictures, and harassment. “This is about stuff that we don’t talk about in school,” said Harris.
Clare Coursey, a rising sophomore at Hall High, is playing the part of Caitlin. Caitlin is a dancer who has been harassed by a male peer. “I like what my character is saying even though I don’t have similar experiences as her,” Coursey said.
However, some members of the cast did decide to create characters who reflected their own lives. “There are people in the show who try to incorporate their own experiences into their character so they are the same person,” said Coursey.
This led to some emotional rehearsals, where people were facing their negative experiences head on. “Every time someone could tell that the play was making another cast member feel emotional, they would stop the scene and everyone would go in for a group hug,” said Coursey.
Pat King, a rising senior at Hall High, is playing the role of Percy. “He’s very hyper vigilant and hyper intelligent,” said King. “He doesn’t understand social cues too much.”
King said he was able to shape the role into what he wanted it to be. “Percy is autistic, but that wasn’t really part of the script,” said King. “It’s been fun to see how the play has evolved because it was just a concept when we started it back in January.”
There will be two performances of the play at the Park Road Playhouse, Sunday, Aug. 2 and Monday, Aug. 3 at 7 p.m.
The Hall students will also perform at the Barrow Group Theater in New York, NY, on Tuesday, Aug. 3 before departing for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. They will also give the rest of their peers a chance to see the show, with a performance at Hall High in October.
“Our whole mission is that there will be some kids who will see this piece and say ‘hey stop’. It’s giving a voice to those who may not have one,” said Harris.
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