Friday, January 4 was shaping up to be another ordinary day. After lounging through Art I and Pride Period, I trudged across campus to Mrs. Floyd’s AP English class, looking forward to a day of reading and relaxing. I was less than excited, then, to find out our class would instead be viewing the mainstage production, Esse Quam Videri: At the Museum.
To be completely honest, I went into the auditorium with fairly low expectations. The play, written primarily by Jesse McGuire, senior, was intended as a Night at the Museum-redo, this time featuring famous North Carolinians. I know Jesse: She’s a good writer, but I still had my doubts about a student-written production.
As the play went on, I found myself, as well as the fifth-graders surrounding me, fixated on Chief Yonaguska, played by Jacob Melvin, junior. Melvin’s high-pitched battle cries, gruff demeanor and long feathered braids added an element of humor that left the younger crowd (and me) entertained throughout.
Senator Elizabeth Dole, played by Megan DeMarco, senior, was one of the most convincing and recognizable North Carolinians in the show. In combination with her costume and hair, Dole’s recent fame in North Carolina helped make the play more relatable.
If there was a criticism to be had, it was that many of the characters were complete unknowns to the average audience member. I’ve heard of Dole, Thomas Wolfe and Dolley Madison, but Eleanor Swain Atkins? Mary Slocumb? Not a chance. Knowing little about the people included made the storyline confusing at first, but each character explained their story somewhat as the play progressed.
An hour later, I walked out of Esse Quam Videri: At the Museum pleasantly surprised. No, it wasn’t groundbreaking and no, it wasn’t the best I’d ever seen, but for a student-written play, it was significantly better than I had expected. Bravo Mainstage, bravo.