Some students may spend their entire high school careers trying to find a place they belong. For some it’s athletics, clubs, or maybe theatre.
First let me tell you a story: Three years ago, a kid started his freshman year. Like most freshmen, he wasn’t sure what he wanted to get involved in. With so many options for sports team, clubs, classes, and leadership positions, it was somewhat overwhelming. So that year he never really became too involved in anything; he just did the regular school routine with a club meeting here or there and tried wrestling which did not end well.
He went to see Sanderson’s production of The Mystery of Edwin Drood, which a friend of his was in. He decided that maybe he should give theatre a shot the next year.
Then came sophomore year. He had joined newspaper, joined a few more clubs and shifted his focus to basketball. In the winter time, his plan for basketball did not work out the way he had hoped, and he was not sure where. He ran for leadership roles in clubs which all worked out well, but something seemed to be missing.
Second semester came around, and this underclassman walked into his fourth period class, Theatre 1. He had learned from previous theatre students about its relaxed environment and how “easy” of a class it was. These reasons were his main motivators for joining. As the bell rang, he realized he jumped into something that he wasn’t expecting. During his transition from freshman to sophomore year, the Theatre Department had a new teacher, Ms. Tarson. He soon realized this new theatre class required work, which was something he wasn’t expecting.
But after a while the class and Ms. Tarson began to grow on him. Then the spring musical, Legally Blonde came around, and the show’s talented cast inspired him. He talked with Tarson about continuing his studies in the Theatre Department possibly senior year — since class selection time had already past — and auditioning for future productions. He went through the rest of the class performing and learning to the best of his ability and tried to make some sort of impression. He’s still not sure what, but somehow he made an impression.
At the end of the semester, Tarson approached him about doing Theatre in the future. He had definitely wanted to do more advanced theatre work, but didn’t feel he was good enough to do so. She saw something in him that he didn’t see in himself. A talent that he had never used to its full potential. At the end of class one day, she invited him to audition for Mainstage — the advanced theatre class. He thought that he’d give it a shot.
This student then became the unknown 19th student to the somewhat exclusive and tight-knit Mainstage class. Even though he was not sure what to expect — and he was sure the class didn’t know what to think either — everyone welcomed him with open arms. Through enduring the class and then being a part of the fall play, The Odd Couple, the Theatre Department quickly became his second family.
You may be asking yourself who is this student?
That student is me, Will Hollerung. I was the overwhelmed freshman who snuck his way from the bottom of the fine arts program to the elite group of actors in the theatre department.
I didn’t just want to tell my story to show my successes, but to show how one event or one person/group of people can have a major impact on someone.
To this day, I haven’t met any other group of people at this school that is more tightly-knit than the Theatre Department. No club, no sports team and no class I’ve been a part of has been closer and more like a family. Most of the time, you’ll find the theatre kids hanging out before or after school and regularly going out to lunch as a group.
“It’s something I’ll never stop doing,” said Abby Aldrich, a Leesville junior and Mainstage member. “To me [the Theatre Department] means family…it means I am accepted as I am. I get to do what I love and share it with an audience.”
The Mainstage class has begun their preparation for their January show, By the Bog of Cats. Through this show, and their recent trip to Chicago, the class has bonded even more and created a connection that no other class in school can say they have.
The rooms of Tarson and Wrayno have always been a sort of safe haven for all students. Anyone interested in becoming a part of the department should contact Tarson and Wrayno for more information.
“Theatre is an art,” said Abby Holland, a Leesville senior who is the ITS President and mainstage member.
It’s an art who is open to everyone and is fresh with each new performance