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New Richmond High School student Rocco Ficociello (left) rehearses with fellow castmates Jenna Johnson (in the bed), and Brenna Connolly during a scene in “The “Crucible.” “The Crucible” is one of two plays the drama department is performing as part of the school’s spring play, which also includes the short play “The Lottery.” (Photo by Jordan WillI)

NRHS drama department to perform “The Lottery”, “The Crucible”

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Over the last few years, the New Richmond High School drama department has performed mostly happy and light plays or musical such as this winter’s "Irving Berlin’s White Christmas." And that was one of the main reasons Drama Director Katelyn Peterson decided to challenge her students with two much darker plays for their spring performance.

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“If you look in the past four years, all of those shows have been very positive, very happy and very humorous, but it is my job as a drama director to not just focus on bringing in an audience, but to focus on what my students are learning,” Peterson said. “If I do not do a darker or more serious show I feel like I would be doing them a disservice. The reason I chose these two specific shows is because they tie into our literacy here in the district because the eighth-grade class reads "The Lottery" while the sophomore class reads "The Crucible.”

Two One Acts: "The Lottery" with scenes from "The Crucible" opens in the high school auditorium on Friday, April 4, with a 7 p.m. performance, with a second show on Saturday, April 5, also at 7 p.m. General admission tickets are $5. The show is not appropriate for young children.

According to Peterson, the cast will perform the two sections from "The Crucible," then there will be a short intermission before coming back on stage to perform "The Lottery."

“They are two different plays that both take a look at society and how we as a culture like to put blame and have sacrificial lambs and all that,” Peterson said. “‘The Crucible’ is actually a full-length show and I took a cutting out of. Out of the four original acts we are doing about half of it and focusing on how quickly things can turn. ‘The Lottery’ is written as a short story...and there again you get a society that always has a sacrifice once a year. These are two, not very happy stories.”

Because the students participating in the show have read both the stories before, Peterson believes it gives them a better understanding of the material and allows them to put more into the characters they are playing. The choice in play material also gives the cast an opportunity to perform the plays in front of two more live audiences, for both the eighth-grade students and the sophomores, before putting the show in front of their families and community members on Friday night.

“Because this is a darker play, we are looking for a different side to some of the actors who aren’t used to playing that type of character,” Peterson said. “The people you might have seen in ‘White Christmas’ joking and having a fun time are now going to be on stage not joking and having a rather serious conversation.”

For the most part, the experiences the cast has had so far with a more serious play have been positive, but the students all agree that putting together the two plays have been very challenging.

“I really liked my part because it has allowed me to diversify myself and get a different experience,” said junior Ally Halonen, who plays Elizabeth Proctor in "The Crucible.” “I think this play is a whole lot more challenging than anything else we have done before because the content is a lot deeper. It is a lot more emotional than a comedy or something like that.”

The thought of being challenged by a part was one of the reason junior Gus Franchere wanted to take part in the spring play, but it was also the chance to take on a different role than he is used to that made him excited to perform his two parts.

“I was attracted to the challenge of the plays we are doing for sure,” Franchere said. “I’ve always played really comedic characters in past shows, so it is really nice to broaden my acting horizon because I have a very serious part in this play. It is really good for me as an actor to grow.”

Junior Kayla Sheffield believes that the hardest part about the different style of play for a large part of the cast is memorizing the lines. However, despite the difficult lines, Sheffield enjoys getting the change of pace from the normal fare the drama department puts on stage.

“The most challenging thing for us as a cast is memorizing some of the lines because of the time period,” said Sheffield, who plays Rebecca Nurse in "The Crucible." “We have all be challenged with different characters before so we are all ready to take on very different characters. I enjoy the challenge myself because it is nice to get challenged every now and then.”

In addition to the challenge of a darker play and having to learn more and harder dialogue, the cast of the spring play also had to deal with a slew of canceled rehearsals due to poor weather and illnesses.

“Every night is crunch time with all the time we have missed due to weather and such,” Franchere said. “Learning our lines has been a struggle for everyone. We also have to work that much harder and that much more during our rehearsal times. It makes the expectation level higher. I’ve never worked this hard on a play before. We are all pretty nervous about opening night, but I know we will all be ready come Friday night.”

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Jordan Willi
Jordan Willi is a reporter for the New Richmond News. Previously, he worked as a sports reporter at the Worthington Daily Globe in Worthington, Minnesota. He also interned at the Hudson Star Obeserver for two summers and contributed to the Bison Illustrated sports magazine at North Dakota State University.
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