The Bullard High School One Act Play company has been working hard to turn a play written by one of the world’s renowned playwrights into a program that will attract the judges’ attentions during upcoming competitions.
“We are excited about OAP this season,” said Stacy Hightower, BHS OAP Director. “I was asked recently by our school newspaper what I liked about the play we selected for OAP this year, and hands down, it’s the hard work and effort put forth by our company. I’m very excited to see all of their hard work to pay off.”
According to Kati McKinney, also a BHS OAP Director, the rules and regulations regarding UIL OAP performances
“In order to really cover the rules and guidelines of OAP, I would need about 18 different issues of the newspaper because that’s how many rules there are,” said McKinney. “There are approximately 100 pages of rules for OAP. We cannot go over 40 minutes, and the minimum time limit is 16 minutes. Since ‘A Midsummer’s Night Dream’ is definitely not an actual play in one act, we have still have to do a one act version of it for competition. There are literally rules regarding the number of lights we’re allowed, as well as how much fabric we can have on stage and how tall certain set pieces can be. OAP definitely takes a lot of preparation, not only from the actors, but from us, as directors. Whenever we want to try something we thing would be cool, we have to open up the handbook to see if there are any restrictions. Usually, if you break a rule, you’ll find out about it during tech rehearsal, and you’re granted the time to change it before the contest the next day. However, if it’s not caught at the tech rehearsal and it’s not allowed but still shows up in your production, you can be disqualified for just breaking one rule.”
Hightower said she and McKinney selected for the company to perform “A Midsummer’s Night Dream” for this year’s competition because of its challenging level.
“Both Mrs. McKinney and I have English as a part of our degrees,” said Hightower. “We both love and appreciate Shakespeare because of what it teaches and how tough it is for students, especially for high school students to not only understand it, but portray it in a way that the audience doesn’t even realize it’s listening to a Shakespeare play. The play also had so many aspects for character development and the technical aspect was just beautiful. There’s a wide array of characters, and it’s been fun to watch our students actually become like their characters.”
McKinney summarized “A Midsummer’s Night Dream,” which was written by Shakespeare between 1590 and 1597, as a play filled with the emotion of love with a complement of comedy.
“You really have to see the production to understand it because it is a confusing chaos of a mess,” said McKinney. “You have Athenians, who are the mortals, as well as the fairies interfering in the mortals’ lives. It turns out to be both a love story and a comedy. It’s just a great play to produce. This play is one of the easiest to cut into a 40-minute timeframe; there are several Shakespearean plays that you just cannot take and do in 40 minutes.”
Cast members in the BHS OAP production of “A Midsummer’s Night Dream” include Maddie Grace Beam, as Puck; Tyler Baker, as Oberon; Erin Berry as Titania; Will Brown, as Demetrius; Levi Ehrman, as Lysander; Ashlyn Meador, as Helena; Emmalie Ellis, as Hermia; Emily Dean, as Bottom; Dylan Price, as Egeus; Joey Padrucco, as Theseus; Kaitie Woodard, as Hippolyta; Megan McCoy, as Spring Fairy; Raelee Walker, as Summer Fairy; and Collin Skelton, as Winter Fairy.
Tech and stage crew for the production include Bailey Baker, stage manager; Audrey Dean, stage crew; Sarah Crossman, lights; Valerie Vierkant, sound; Patience Evans, assistant stage manager; Ellis and McCoy, makeup crew heads; and McCoy, choreographer.
Alternates for “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” include Brooke Henry, Patrick Granberry, Keely Linebaugh, Haley Medders, and Kayla Luptak.
“This company is unlike any company we’ve had,” said Hightower. “They have sought after every ounce of rehearsal time, practice, or character development that we could give them. Each actor wants to make sure every single character is portrayed perfectly on stage. Tyler is one of the actors who has worked extremely hard; he has spent hours working and developing, and when you see him on stage, there’s no doubt he’s actually Oberon. Maddie Grace and Emmalie have also worked very hard to perfect their characters. Even our minor characters of the fairies, as well as Dylan, Joey, Kaitie, you enjoy their performances and there are no weak spots. Their hard work and work ethic have helped to achieve this level of acting.”
McKinney said the BHS OAP company has been able to come together as one to focus on the task at hand this year.
“It’s really like a big family,” said McKinney. “Not every show you do does the cast and crew become a family. They all have positive attitudes and want the best for their characters, as well as the other characters in the show. This group just does not settle for mediocre, they want the very best and to succeed at all they do.”
The 2016 BHS OAP portrayal of Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible” had high expectations for the company, but unfortunately ended its run as an Area alternate. Despite that, McKinney hopes for her actors and actresses to know they’ve performed the production at their best.
“My ultimate goal is that the kids walk away from every competition knowing they’ve performed to the best of their abilities and that they’re proud of the show,” said McKinney. “We’re competitive, so we always want to win. Nothing’s ever good enough unless we win State, and that’s in any competition. Really and truly, we want the students to be proud of their craft and make sure they walk off the stage knowing they did the best they could possibly do.”
The BHS OAP Company will first compete at the District OAP competition, to be held at 10 a.m. Thursday, March 9, inside BHS’s Audry B. Owens Auditorium. If the company is able to advance to the next round, the Bi-District competition will be held Saturday, March 25, at Chapel Hill High School.
According to Hightower, a public performance of the BHS OAP “A Midsummer’s Night Dream” is in the planning stages, but no date has been announced.