'Bizarre Wars' showing this week
Posted on: May 11, 2018
One of the silliest spectacles of the school year will descend on the Delano Middle School auditorium when Joe Lawrence’s Theatre Arts class takes the stage and presents “Bizarre Wars: The Legend of Steve??” later this week.
The 32-member high school class consists almost entirely of students without prior theater experience, but that hasn’t kept members from tackling show business with enthusiasm.
“Most of them are not ‘theater people,’ but some of them should be because they are just great,” said Lawrence, a language arts teacher at DHS who wrote the play and is serving as its director. “We have some really funny, naturally talented kids in the show who get to feature what they can do, so it’s pretty cool.”
The show, inspired by a mix of ancient Greek drama, Monty Python and more, pits “Steve” against “Nikoleta” in a chimera-capturing competition, then includes a set of Olympic-type games followed by a royal rumble. Senior Steven Hajas plays the title character, and Annabelle Frake plays his nemesis Nikoleta. The show includes positive messages about working together and being unique, and is appropriate for all ages.
Elementary school students will view performances on Thursday and Friday, May 17-18, and a public performance is scheduled for 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 19. There is no cost of admission, but those who attend are encouraged to bring items to donate to the food shelf.
Hajas said he was inspired to join the Theatre Arts class because he viewed the performance of a previous class as a freshman and knew he wanted to bring a couple of friends along and have the same experience as a senior.
Performing in front of an audience can be a challenge for most people, but junior Shianne Christensen said she joined because she has appreciated Lawrence’s ability to push students to try new things.
“I’m stepping out of my box - like a mile out of my box,” she said.
Junior Slovakian exchange student Tereza Paskova said the process of getting acclimated to acting has been eased by good relationships among the students – many of whom did not know each other prior to joining the class.
“We didn’t know each other or what other people could do. Now we’re like, ‘Wow, you can do this or that?’ It’s pretty impressive,” she said.
Lawrence said the experience is primarily about promoting students’ confidence and self-awareness, along with their ability to collaborate.
“It’s a community builder,” he said. “The kids are from grades 9-12 and from all different backgrounds. I have wrestlers and musicians and lacrosse players. Most of them came with one friend, some with none. Now they are mostly pretty well connected and having fun.”
Hajas took a public speaking class with Lawrence previously and said it was a good precursor that has helped calm nerves in the acting course.
“He taught us how to not be afraid of people because when you’re up there you have the stage. You’re in control of the whole group,” Hajas said.
Directing students with little to no theatre experience is both harder and easier than working with professionals or seasoned students, Lawrence said. It is easier because the students have no pre-conceived notions, but “it is harder because they don’t know the basics. They don’t know how to stand. They have to learn a lot of things like how to talk clearly enough to be heard, how not to drop a line. But it’s fun too, because they get it pretty quickly.”
Lawrence started the Theatre Arts class performances about six years ago with 15 students, and the class and events have grown since then. The original intention was to do short skits, but when elementary students and staff responded enthusiastically and in large numbers to an initial invitation, a full play became necessary.
“This is my sixth one-act children’s play, and it’s one of my favorites,” said Lawrence. “It’s pretty funny, weird as can be, and we’re having a lot of fun with it.”
The Cretan Crooner: Emmett Anderson
The Cretan Chorus: Gisela Castro-Medina, Abigail Hamblet, Laurel Jaworski, Chase Kielmeyer, Emily Lubben, Zach Mengelkoch, Troy Pappas, Tereza Paskova, A.J. Ragan, Emily Renville, Garrett Robinson, Jackson Royer, Ethan Weed
Mommius: Shianne Christensen
Steve: Steven Hajas
Popius: Cody Olson
Ate’: Laney Esler
Bia: Megan Bruzek
Calliope: Shianne Judge
Nikoleta: Annabelle Frake
Hairy: Brendan Kalous
Shirley: Chad Kestner
Joe: Camden Tschudi
Auntius: Paige Grover
Antius: Chloe Holman
Snakeboy: Jacob Praska
Kittengirl: Lexi Love
Foxy: Tereza Paskova
Monkeyboy: Everett Lawrence
TurtleGirl: Megan Scheibe
ChickenMan: A.J. Ragan
Pigboy: Ethan Weed
Mermaid: Emily Renville
KoalaGirl: Elena MacLean
Melvin the Minotaur: Garrett Robinson
The Copfather: Danny Moonen
Uncle Don: Wyatt McLean