Dramatically Speaking: A Look Inside Cartersville’s Theatre Department

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Moving Behind the Chairs in Abstract Cinema Hall with Black Screen Seamless. Looped 3d Animation of Rows of Seats in Cinema. Art and Media Concept. 4k Ultra HD 3840×2160.

Jake Hall, Writer

Theatre students are always busy. Between anxious auditions and tireless rehearsals, a person needs passion to pursue theatre. And passion is a quality which Cartersville’s new theatre teacher, Ms. Bethany Moody possesses. A glance at her desk confirms this; a seemingly unending trail of papers and sticky notes sprinkled with pens and USB cables cover her desk from corner to corner. This is no impediment to her however, as Ms. Moody eschews the desk for the front of the classroom, guiding students with one hand on her hip and the other spinning in the air.

Amid designing and directing shows for Act One (a local non-profit) and even the Grand Theatre, Ms. Moody is starting her first-year teaching. Her passion for theatre began in middle school, and now naturally extends to teaching the subject. “It was either art or theatre class- and our art teacher was mean” Ms. Moody explains. But what does teaching theatre entail? Block schedule has already forced many curricula to change, which only adds to the difficulty Ms. Moody faces of living up to Cartersville’s dramatic reputation.

Under the tutelage of Mrs. Long, CHS’ theatre department continually produced shows. Last year, the school put on three shows- Shrek JR., The Election, and Legally Blonde. This is actually less than the normal four shows a year, which has been a Cartersville tradition for years. Along with this conveyor belt of shows, the first production is plucked out to be performed in the One Act theatrical competition. CHS has placed 3rd consistently in past years. This is something Ms. Moody would like to change.

“This class is project orientated” Ms. Moody states. “Right now, my musical theatre class is practicing how to slate and give monologues.” Slating is a term for introducing yourself on stage. Amongst the other projects students are currently involved in include first year students getting over stage fright and tech students learning about and designing lighting. All of these assignments are “collaboratively orientated,” as Ms. Moody describes. This is an aspect essential to theatre; an art based in collaboration.

Teaching collaboration is only one of many ‘life skills’ Ms. Moody incorporates into the classroom. According to her, theatre can teach communication and self-confidence as well. Being able to go on stage in front of strangers and perform is sure to help with any confidence issues—as long as you can actually get on stage.

Like any art taught in school, state education standards for theatre are a little…ambiguous. There are no textbooks, few aids, and no required reading. Performances are not even required. The standards for Advanced Drama Levels 2 to 4 are to “enhance (previous) level skills focusing on student direction and design.” The U.S.’ approach to public education is often criticized for a lack of emphasis on the arts, as many schools are quick to drop art programs once funding gets tight. However, this lack of attention can lead to some lateral thinking. For example, Cartersville’s four shows a year fulfilled those previously mentioned standards. So could have reciting the same Shakespeare monologue for the tenth time.

Besides the four yearly shows, Ms. Moody is able to extend her classes into the community- thanks to the Grand Theatre. This follows her other goal for teaching theatre: get the community more involved. The arts are essential to a community, according to Ms. Moody. That’s why she intends to bring in theatre professionals to speak to classes.

For most of Cartersville’s drama students, they hope all these lessons, projects and speakers will amount to earning a role in a show. CHS’ four annual shows are open to any student to audition for—being in theatre does not guarantee a spot on the stage or in the spotlight. In fact, many drama students audition for plays completely unassociated with the school, students like Winter Jamison, a sophomore starring in a rendition of Mother Hicks.

“I’ve always liked theatre,” Winter gleefully confesses. “It’s just…fun.” After acting in last year’s The Election, she decided to continue in theatre and take the 2nd year Theatre course. Besides Mother Hicks, Winter is also starring in CHS’ upcoming show: The Women of Lockerbie.

The Women of Lockerbie is a play by Deborah Brevoort about the Lockerbie Disaster. For context- the Lockerbie Disaster is the name giving to the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, which was destroyed by terrorists and whose wreckage crashed into the Scottish town of Lockerbie on December 21st, 1988. Deborah Brevoort’s work centers on an American woman traveling to Lockerbie to find her son’s remains and hopefully closure. The play has garnered multiple awards after being first performed in 2005 at the Orangetree Theatre in England.

For Cartersville’s adaptation, eleven students have been cast. The actors include Hannah Popham, Gabby Coleman, Samuel Bernstein, Kaylee Westbrook, and Cainen Crowder in speaking roles, along with Emma Wilson, Elyse Tindall, Olivia Reininga, Winter Jamison, Haley Dufrene, and Haley Hammitt as members of The Women’s Ensemble. These students have just two months to rehearse, as the show premieres on October 20th.

As for the three other shows planned for this year, they include: Little Women in December; Almost, Maine in February; and 9 to 5 in May. More information on auditions and dates for these performances will be released at a later date. The music of 9 to 5 was written entirely by Dolly Parton, because of which, Ms. Moody calls this play her “favorite.”

Many of these apprehensions and questions can be applied to every class, club and course on campus for this new school year. Block scheduling, new rules, construction, all gives this semester an air of alarm. But just as the Theatre Department is overcoming these challenges, so will the rest of the student body.