‘Stars’ Shine Bright Amidst Challenges

Students capture foreign cultures in the upcoming winter play

February 19, 2016

While junior Sarah Hanson did not anticipate to be spending her winter break mastering a Russian accent, the challenge was worth the effort for her and her co-stars.

“To See the Stars is a dramatic play that allows its actors to not only push themselves creatively, but teaches them important lessons about strength and integrity,” English teacher and theatre director Michelle Williamson said.

The reasoning behind Williamson’s choice to put on this drama is simple: to challenge the actors and technical students to experience new areas of theatre they had not previously explored, particularly to accurately portray foreign cultures and accents such as: Irish, Russian, and German.

“I had to learn an Irish accent! I bought a CD that taught me how to pronounce things in Irish, especially the ‘r’ sounds,” junior Olivia Klein said.

Klein’s efforts were on her own time and without assistance.

Proving that the department is always going the extra mile to achieve excellence.

However, Klein is not the only one who struggled to gain accurate characterization.

“The most challenging thing is that since my character, Anya, is a poor Russian immigrant, it is hard to connect to her as a character and fully understand her struggles,” junior Sarah Hanson said.

Perhaps one of the most remarkable traits of this production is the diversity of the range of characters.

Because most characters in the show were immigrants, practically every member of the cast had to portray a character with a different nationalities and accents.

“There are cast members that speak in Russian, Irish, German, English, and New York accents,” Hanson said.

While overjoyed that she acquired such an important role, Hanson was promptly stricken with pressure to accurately portray a Russian accent.

“I was afraid of the possibility of offending Russia’s rich culture, so I spent my winter break watching tutorials on YouTube on how to sound Russian. I wanted to do my best to get as close to sounding realistic, but not going overboard,” Hanson said.

Hanson and her co-‘stars’ are steadfast in their struggle to achieve excellence in the MN theatre department.

However, they are not the only ones who have to read up on their international cultures.

“Since the play is set in 1909-1910, most of the set, props, costumes, etc. had to be built, altered, or borrowed. The costume crew alone diligently made and altered over 20 full costumes for this production to accurately capture the essence of how the immigrants would dress,” Williamson said.

The whopping 74 member crew meets every Monday to discuss the progress of each individual crew: publicity, set construction, costumes, paint, makeup, props, lights, and sound.

I am pleased with the amount of dedication and work on this production, especially from such a young cast with only one senior. The play should prove to be entertaining but also educational, which is our ultimate wish”

— Michelle Williamson

Hanson and her hard working co-‘stars’ have been rehearsing every day after school since November 9th.

Be sure to grab a ticket to one of their performances: Thursday February 4th, Friday February 5th, and Saturday February 6th all at 7pm.

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