Keeping the theater alive
Every year, the New Richmond High School drama department holds a pair of productions for their family, friends and the community at large.
In between shows, the students who take part in those productions, or have a love for the theater, find it hard to keep the spirit and community of the stage alive. That's why theater director Ashley Steiner decided to start a Drama Club to keep the students involved throughout the school year.
"While directing the last two shows, I started to feel like there was a lack of community amongst the students. After the shows were over, students went back to their own ways, which was fine. But I felt that we could really build this sense of community and support for each other throughout the year," Steiner said. "When working in a show, you develop a bond with your fellow cast and crew members that becomes almost like a family. Theater can be a very personal experience but we shouldn't have to do it alone. I really wanted to create that sense of community and support for students interested in any aspect of theater."
Steiner approached the school board with her idea for a Drama Club during the 2018-2019 school year; the club was approved at the May 2018 school board meeting.
"Once the club was approved we elected officers and had initial meetings to get a general idea of what our goal and club purpose. We worked together to brainstorm what kinds of things we would like to accomplish as a club to create a sense of community," Steiner said. "Drama Club members worked together to organize the shop, the costume and prop closet and paint the theater stage between performances. These types of tasks are important but are easily overlooked during performance season."
The purpose of the Drama Club, according to Steiner, is to function as a student-centered club, where the students take full responsibility for envisioning, designing and creating all aspects of theater throughout the year. The club will work in conjunction with the twice yearly school productions while also serving as a way to keep the spirit of theater alive in between shows. It will also work to instill communication, collaboration and creative thinking/problem solving in a productive environment while giving students opportunities outside of a theater production.
"I believe it's important for schools to have a drama club so those that are interested in theater can learn more about the way it works and all that it takes to put together a great show," said student and Drama Club member Izzy Dyg. "I was in my first play in middle school and I've been hooked on theater and been part of community theater and activities ever since."
For club member Will Chrisco, being part of Drama Club means being with friends and continuing to learn about something he's spent a large chunk of his life involved in.
"I've been doing plays and drama club for a large portion of my life. I can't even remember what made me first join but I can't imagine myself not doing it. Drama Club offers great options to a wide variety of people. There's something for everyone!" Chrisco said.
According to Steiner, the club currently has plans to see both professional and high school theater productions, while also working toward a partnership with the middle school drama group in a mentor-type program.
"Anyone and everyone is welcome to join our group, meaning that you don't have to be in theater productions to be part of the group. We have some big goals that we're working towards, all of which involve growing our theater program and the theater community," Steiner said. "We really want to create a presence and a strong foundation for our students who are interested in any aspect of theater."