Theater togetherness: Middle school play brings cast together

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Photo credit: Poster designed by Molly Sollowitz

Poster for the upcoming middle school play titled “Bright. Young. Things.” The play follows a group of young geniuses in a televised competition for the title of the brightest child of Britain. The story shares the kids journey of competition, self-reflection and coming together.

By Thea Leimone, Features Editor

The stage has been painted, the late-night rehearsals have taken place and the cast and crew are ready to put on their best show. After three months of rehearsals, the middle school play “Bright. Young. Things,” written by Georgia Christou, will make its debut to the Archer community on Dec. 10. The story follows six child geniuses selected for a reality television show in a competition for Britain’s smartest child. The play follows these kids as the pressure builds, competition spikes and, ultimately, the children learn that supporting one another is most important, just as the Archer cast does.

“It’s an ensemble play, so there’s no real leader. So we all connected with each other because we all have to — if one person forgets their line, then the whole thing stops,” seventh grader Maya Sakhnini said. “So we’ve had to connect and bond with each other.”

The play was chosen by arts teacher and play director Tracy Poverstein. She chose this particular story for its message of togetherness, which she thought was important to highlight following a year of remote learning and virtual plays.

I love the idea of the first play back on campus being about coming together, and that’s what theater is about,” Poverstein said. “I also liked the idea that it’s about reality television, and [that’s] why we’re all watching it, and how we’re almost taking pleasure in watching other people’s pain and what that means for us as a society. So I thought it would be an interesting [play], especially in a competitive academic atmosphere like a private school.” 

Cast members like eighth grader Lucy Kaplan found that the theme of coming together translated into the support the cast gave one another. This play marks the first in-person middle school production since 2019, so sixth, seventh and some eighth grade students are new to this theater environment.

“The play’s message is about how all the girls are supposed to be going head-to-head, but they find friendship and connection with each other instead, and that ends up bringing the whole show together — that’s one of the driving forces,” Kaplan said. “I think that’s fun to have this [now] because you get to make connections with people that you normally wouldn’t. [During COVID],  I didn’t really make connections with any of them because we were all over Zoom and they weren’t in any of my classes. So it’s cool to make friends in different grades and even friends in your grade that you didn’t have classes with.”

Planning for the production has had multiple changes, from location to the various mask mandates required for performers. The final decision was to hold the play in the amphitheater on the stage the upper school musical recently took place on. Cast members found out about this change within a week before the show and, due to the outdoor location, were able to act without masks on.

“I think that it’s a much closer group than I’ve seen, because I think everybody really missed seeing each other. So now that everyone’s back, people are really quick to make these connections.””

— Quincy Gordon

“There have been a lot of changes that have had to happen because of numbers and cases. So it’s been different planning-wise, because we’ve had to sort of think about COVID as we adapt the different stage setups a lot,” senior and stage manager Quincy Gordon said. “I think that it’s a much closer group than I’ve seen, because I think everybody really missed seeing each other. So now that everyone’s back, people are really quick to make these connections.”

The cast, unlike most past shows, is double casted, which has allowed for more students to take part in the show. The cast and crew began tech week prior to the show, which meant staying on campus and doing run throughs until 7 p.m.

“It’s also a bigger cast and a bigger crew than we’ve seen in the past. I think it’s because a lot of people who haven’t done this in the past want to take the opportunity to try it out,” Gordon said. “I think that everyone’s been doing really great so far. We’re getting really close to this show, but people have really been putting everything into it. We have a lot of kids who are really motivated and are really working hard. Also, the crew team is working so hard and sort of taking a lot of time to make sure that the show gets to it.”

“Bright, Young. Things” will have its opening show tonight at 7:30 p.m., and will have three more shows in following days. Tickets can be bought here.

“I am excited the set is getting painted right now and we started putting costumes together. It’s totally amazing that it’s all coming together because I feel like we’re still in the blocking stage, mentally — it all went so fast,” Kaplan said. “I hope it’ll go well. People are learning their lines and coming together. It’s pretty exciting that it’s all coming together and it’s going be a full show, and then it’s sad that will be over once it becomes the full show, but [it will be] pretty fun.”