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OCHS students tell their stories in 'Word Play 4: School Daze'

“Word Play 4: School Daze,” the upcoming winter play at Oregon City High School, showcases five plays, all revolving around the theme of school. The kicker here is that the plays are all written, directed, performed by and produced by students in Karlyn Love’s Drama 3-4 class.

by: PHOTO BY KARMIN TOMLINSON - In 'The Truth?' Dmitri Dodge, left, may have discovered something about Jenika Flynn and (on floor) Alyson Fazzolari. Every other year, Love’s class takes on a playwriting unit, taught by Connor Kerns, an instructor at Portland Actors Conservatory, and a playwright himself.

“He really inspires the students to write, and every student in the class gets to write, direct and act three different times,” Love said.

Students then go through a rewriting process and submit their plays to the class. The class members then vote and choose their top 10 favorites, and Love picks the top five to be produced.

Student directors

“Detention Debacle,” written by Mykel Illa and directed by Jordan Wallace, 18, “opens at the beginning of detention, with roll being taken in a boring way. There are two normal students, and two very odd people, who don’t know how to dress and who keep licking their school supplies,” Wallace said.

The two normal kids spend the rest of the play trying to figure out what is going on with the other two, and things are not as they seem, he added.

This is his first experience directing, and “it has taught me a lot about responsibility, because I’m doing it all, including costumes and sound effects. I’m extremely goofy, so it has been cool to learn to stay on schedule and develop the creative eye of the director,” Wallace said.

He added that he loves acting, and this has given him a new perspective on what it is like to be an actor. It has been challenging keeping rehearsals on track, but in the end, it has been rewarding to watch his cast come together, Wallace said.

Sam Babst, 18, is both writer and director of “The Truth?” a play in which a third-grader sneaks back into his school at night to discover two of his teachers still in the building.

This is his first directing experience, and he has “learned how hard it is to be a leader for your peers and take on a role above them, especially when you hang out with them,” he said.

“Giving feedback is hard, and it is hard to tell people no, that we have to do what is best for the show,” Babst said.

He added, “I love seeing something I wrote come to life; seeing people being the characters I created.”

In “A Checkmate of the Heart,” written by Blaine Holbert, “a nerdy little socially awkward guy wants to get the courage to ask out his classmate, a girl who is also on the chess team. And then a new character comes in who wants to help, but doesn’t know how,” said director Lizard Jasperson, 18.

What she has found to be most challenging is “not only trying to teach your peers, but being on top of everything. I have learned to take notes and be polite, and I am very proud of my actors and take pride in myself, as well. It is a big responsibility.”

Jasperson added that it has been rewarding to “be able to step into a director’s shoes and show how hard people work at this — how much effort and time it takes.”

Grads lend helping hand

This year Love asked two former students, both 2013 OCHS graduates, to return and direct for “Word Play 4.”

Mackenzie Michael, 19, a student at Clackamas Community College, is directing “The Bee,” written by Matt Devlin.

“The drama department was my life in high school, and I am really thrilled to come back and direct,” she said.

The play is about a high school spelling bee and the three remaining contestants are all a bit quirky. The two boys are nerds and the third contestant, a girl, develops a crush on one of the boys.

Michael directed a play last year, but has learned that when you have more actors in the cast that is a “whole other ballgame.”

“Everyone wants to collaborate, but you can’t please everyone,” she said.

The reward for Michael has come when “I give my actors an idea and they are hesitant. I ask them to try it anyway, and then they get more confident in themselves.”

Joel Anderson, 18, also a student at CCC, came back to direct “3014,” written by Natasha Duvall.

This play follows a teacher and her students in 3014 who take a field trip back to 2014. When they get there, they find out that people are obsessed with their cell phones.

Anderson said he has learned the most from watching Love directing, noting that he could never do what she does every day.

What has been most rewarding for him has been “allowing myself to show all my feedback to my fellow actors and doing what I can to contribute to them.”

Cast members include: Rachel Anderson, Kylie Brevick, Tabitha Damm, Matt Devlin, Dmitri Dodge, Natasha Duvall, Aly Fazzolari, Jenika Flynn, Danell Graziano, Hope Harmon, Blaine Holbert, Mykel Illa, Lindsey Keegan, Jessica Kroonen, Michael McClure, Danny Nelson, Tori Nova, Jordan Richardson, Angelique Smith and Chris Thatcher. Stephanie Brewer and Ryan Skellenger are rehearsal assistants.

This is the fourth year for “Word Play,” Love said, noting that in the past the plays have been a mix of comedy and drama.

“But this year we wanted them to all be comedies,” she said.

‘Word Play 4: School Daze’

n What: OCHS Theatre Arts presents five original short plays, written, directed and acted by Advanced Drama students. The production is recommended for ages 13 and up.

n When: 7:30 p.m. Feb. 27 and 28, and March 1, 6, 7 and 8

n Where: Oregon City High School’s Black Box Theatre, 19761 S. Beavercreek Road.

n Tickets: General admission is $8; there are no discounts or advanced ticket sales. The box office opens at 6:45 p.m.

n More: Call 503-785-8980 or visit ochspioneers.org/academics/drama.



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