AHS rehearses one-act play

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rdmore High School’s young performers are preparing to compete in their first one-act play competition. 

AHS’ speech and drama team, The ACT, has been rehearsing a one-act play for the last several weeks. Rehearsals began a few weeks ago, but the cast has been writing character analyses and studying the script since August. The ACT coach Brian Gunter said this is the first play the department has performed in more than 10 years. 

“They probably know their characters better than some of their own friends,” Gunter said. “They’d get random assignments from me via text message, ‘What’s their mask? How are they lying to people? How are they lying to themselves? Be ready to discuss this on Monday.’” 

They’re rehearsing “Intimate Apparel,” a play by Lynn Nottage about a seamstress in New York in 1905. Each character struggles with the roles and expectations placed on them by society due to their race, religion and social class, something each actor had to research individually. The ACT will perform the show once for friends and family at The Brass Ring before leaving for a regional competition. 

“It’s gotten to the point where, win or lose, we have this connection to our characters we can take with us,” Amie Perry said. 

Actors had to work to find their characters’ voices, literally and figuratively. Each character has a distinct accent that tells where they’re from, and students spent weeks developing the way their characters spoke. 

Tau’Jeeai Roberts plays the main character, Esther Mills, an introverted young black woman. She said the character is a far cry from her own personality. 

“She doesn’t project much,” Roberts said. “At first, I didn’t want to be Esther, but after reading and acting as Esther, I actually relate to her more than the character I wanted to be.” 

Aspen Nugent plays Mayme, a more assertive friend of Esther’s who works as a prostitute. Originally, Roberts and Nugent read for Mayme and Esther respectively, but through the audition process, their roles were flipped. Nugent said she’s played characters like Esther before, but found a connection with Mayme. 

“She puts on a face and acts like she’s happy but she’s probably not. Who’s happy being a prostitute?” Nugget said. “I can put on a face when I need to as well and I can push myself through it just like she can.” 

Alexia Girard, a senior, plays Mrs. Van Buren, a wealthy white woman who feels stifled by her role in society. She said that she initially saw her character as a villain, and slowly got to know her over time. 

“I found that I relate to Mrs. Van Buren in so many ways,” Girard said. “I care for her so much. You become protective of the character you previous thought was the antagonist of it all.” 

Amie Perry plays Mrs. Dickson. Her character is assertive, mentally and physically, something she said she had to practice. 

“You have to be okay with doing those big moves and feeling comfortable, since it’s not what’s socially acceptable in this day and age, and that lets you have freedom in real life,” Perry said. 

Josh Credle plays George Armstrong, who was born in Barbados. The character has two voices, one for the letters he writes for Esther and another in person. Credle said he studied Barbadian accents to prepare for the role. 

“George is a person I was raised not to be,” Credle said. “I really had to go deep down into my core and think of why he’s like this.” 

Ivan Almaraz’s character Mr. Marks is Romanian and Jewish, which influenced the voice Almaraz chose for him. Almaraz said research informed a lot of the choices he made with the character. 

“I was raised Catholic and I’m Hispanic as well,” Almaraz said. “I [studied] the Jewish religion and learned a few things that interested me about how their relationship with God works.” 

The cast will perform at a regional competition Oct. 12 and 13, then return home to perform the play for the general public after fall break. All six performers said they’re equally excited and anxious for the chance to take the play to a competition, but they’re mostly just anxious to share the play with an audience. 

“I want people to see it and feel the same way we feel about it, having worked on it for months,” Girard said.