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'The Crucible' brings historical fiction to life

Students at St. Helens High School rehearse for the opening night of The Crucible in early November

SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: NICOLE THILL - Josh Farrell, a homeschooled senior, Hunter Hall, a junior, and Rycca Loosi, a freshman, run through lines on stage on Tuesday, Oct. 20. Students will start doing dress rehearsals next week. It’s all hands on deck inside the St. Helens High School auditorium as students rehearse lines, build props and create costume designs for the first play performance of the year, The Crucible.

The show is a well-known American classic written by Arthur Miller that depicts events of the Salem Witch Trials of 1692 in a historical fiction setting.

Ron Barnett, a language arts, yearbook and drama teacher, chose the play because many students read it in their junior-level language arts classes. Barnett said a large group of the students in drama club this year are juniors and it seemed like the right fit.

The show has a cast of 21 students and a stage crew of 11 students of varying grade levels.

Victoria Roberts, a junior, is playing the role of Ann Putnam, one of the main characters who believes witchcraft is to blame for the death of her children. According to Barnett, some of the play’s historical accuracy is questionable, but Roberts said she enjoys putting on performances of historical fiction where the plot is somewhat realistic.

“I think it’s cool to portray something that kind of really happened,” Roberts said.

The cast has been rehearsing for the play five days a week for two hours after school since late September. Barnett said the group spent the first few weeks exploring characters and their motivations off stage before the students even began to run lines.

“It’s all about creating for me,” Barnett said. “We don’t jump right into being on stage.”

Barnett has been teaching at St. Helens High School since 2003. He graduated from the high school in 1987 and was also involved in drama. The school doesn’t have a full time drama teacher position, so Barnett works with the drama classes, yearbook classes and teaches language arts in addition to advising the drama club and the thespian society.

“It’s all about creating something different,” Barnett said. “I also work with yearbook, and I’m really lucky to

have these opportunities to create.”

SPOTLLIGHT PHOTO: NICOLE THILL - Kayla Jerome, a sophomore and stage manager, talks to Vince Cottrell, a sophomore, while Lei Jacob, a freshman, paints a fireplace prop. All three students are members of the crew for this production.Many students involved in theater see the activity as a creative outlet. Not all students in the play are members of the drama club, but Barnett said he encourages students in the club to get involved in theater opportunities.

Kayla Jerome, a sophomore, is the production’s stage manager, a role that’s new for her this year. She said being involved in the process of taking something from start to finish is one of the best parts of being in the theater.

“It’s really nice being able to look at the final product,” Jerome said. “Just seeing how far you’ve come from the basics.”

With opening night just two weeks away, the students

seem excited for the performance.

Josh Farrell, a home-schooled senior, is playing Reverend John Hale, a character who eventually presides over the trials. For Farrell, opening night is all about trusting himself as an actor and trusting in his character to deliver the lines.

“It’s almost impossible to be ready for a show,” Farrell said. “No mater how much you rehearse, or even delay the performance, you’ll never be fully ready.”

Performances of The Crucible will be held at St. Helens High School from Thursday, Nov. 5, to Saturday, Nov. 7, at 7 p.m. One matinee performance will be held on Nov. 7 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $7 for general admission or $5 for students and senior citizens.