South Charlotte

Students write and perform a play with a clear message — read on

Ardrey Kell High theater production

Ardrey Kell students are performing a play written by their classmates for local elementary school students.
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Ardrey Kell students are performing a play written by their classmates for local elementary school students.

As a veteran actor who has performed in several school theater productions in the past, Carly Galinkin admits she had the “classic teenager standpoint” when it came to her perspective of directing a play or musical.

“That doesn’t look too hard,” the Adrey Kell High senior thought.

Over the past month, Galinkin has come to appreciate that there’s a lot more that goes in to directing a play than just shouting “action” and “cut” from in front of the stage. Still, she and fellow co-director Madelyn DePodesta are pleased with their final product.

Later this week, the Ardrey Kell advanced theater classes will perform “The Lackadaisical Prince,” a play written by students in the school’s first playwriting classes. The production is part of the student driven Fourth Annual Book Drive Outreach Program and Children’s Theatre Show.

On Friday morning, first grade students from Pineville Elementary and Stony Creek Elementary will attend a performance at Ardrey Kell’s 650-seat auditorium. After the April 21 show, the elementary students will convene in the school gymnasium where they will receive T-shirts, snacks, and the donated books from the cast members.

The theater classes will also perform the play 6 p.m. April 20 for parents and the public. Admission is free, but visitors are encouraged to donate a book instead.

“As theater teachers, we try to get them to be the most well-rounded into the world of theater they can possibly be,” said teacher Brian Seagroves.

“(They have been) involved with a production from the conception of an idea to writing it down, to finding the people to act it out, and bringing in (exceptional children) students and throwing them in the mix, rehearing it, and it comes to a head to a large audience of the most honest kids. If they don’t like it they’re just not going to clap and give a standing ovation.”

“The Lackadaisical Prince” is about illiterate Prince Princeton living a privileged life in a fairytale kingdom in a faraway land. He achieves love and success only after a magical bookworm dragon teaches him how to read.

In years past, the theater classes had performed one of its shows from its regular performance season. Those shows have included productions of “Seussical The Musical,” “Alice in Wonderland” and “Mary Poppins.”

This year’s scheduled shows were the musical “Chicago,” and William Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer’s Night Dream” – not exactly the most kid-friendly productions. Playwriting class teacher Terry Gabbard instructed his students to write one act plays as a possible substitute for the annual book drive performance.

Gabbard split his class into groups of five students who collaborated on the writing. Seagroves’ Advanced Theatre students read the plays and selected a winner.

The winning co-playwrights are seniors Galinkin and DePodesta, and juniors John Lee Rudolph, Kevin Wholey and Dylan Bucey. They are also cast members and Bucey is playing the lead.

“Something I had a part in writing being performed for people is awesome,” said Rudolph. “It’s really exciting but it’s also scary because I want it to be really good.”

The student production is also the best opportunity for students in Ardrey Kell’s exceptional students program to be involved in theater and serve as cast members.

“It’s great for the children without disabilities to come together with students with disabilities to see how they have more in common than not,” said exceptional children teacher Kristan Gehrman. “My students who have more moderate to severe disabilities don’t have as many opportunities outside of school to make friends with nondisabled peers so this opportunity means a lot to them and all the students.”

In the past, the book drive was held with theater classes’ two- to three-month performance season and yielded 500-600 books. As of April 17, 400 books have been collected for this year’s drive, which started in early March.

Donated books were collected on designated Drop Everything And Read (DEAR) days at Ardrey Kell in which a designated reading time is built into the day’s academic schedule. Seagroves designed an incentivized competition between homerooms and school clubs to contribute the most books.

Joe Habina is a freelance writer: joehabina@yahoo.com.

Want to go?

The Ardrey Kell advanced theater classes will perform “The Lackadaisical Prince” at 6 p.m. April 20 for parents and the public at Ardrey Kell High School, 10220 Ardrey Kell Road, Charlotte 28277. 980-343-0860.

Admission is free, but visitors are encouraged to donate a book instead.

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