What pre-show nerves? Snuggled into a seat on the busette filled with her theater group cast-mates headed to perform a show at the Haverhill Public Library on Friday, Eleonore Kiriza '22 was simply psyched.
"I'm feeling really confident," she said. "Our first two shows we got really great response. Kids told us it was so funny, so I'm really excited for this one!"
Kiriza (shown above) is part of the afternoon activities theater group of 17 actors and two stage managers that has had the privilege of performing off campus at two elementary schools so far — and will be the first theater performance in the black box theater of Brooks' just-opened Center for the Arts on November 9.
Their show, "Stories From Afar," is geared toward children, and weaves together re-imaginings of fairy tales from the various cultures of the group's actors into one comedy performance. Traditional stories from the Congo, China, Japan and Poland are represented in the roughly 30-minute play — that involves a bit of audience participation, as well.
Cast members include: Amolina Bhat '19, Amma Boamah-Appiah '21, Henry Chen '22, Emily Choe '20, Jeff Feng '20, Maryna Hajdukiewicz '19, Nicole Jin '22, Kiriza, Zoe Maver '21, Omolade Mebude '21, Jennifer Mills '20, Tri Nguyen '22, Katie O'Brien '19, Caroline Samoluk '21, Stella Si '19, Xiu Stuart '19, Tyler Whitney-Sidney '21 and Erika Wilson '20.
Visit our Afternoon Programs page to learn about all the after-school activities at Brooks School
"I've never really done shows outside of my school before," said Kiriza, who plays a king and a frog princess. "It's really unpredictable. Will the kids laugh? Will they pay attention? But after the first two shows, I relaxed because the kids loved it. I was really relieved."
The actors were able to create the full experience for this show because they wrote the script themselves over the course of a month, editing and tweaking it as they went along to make sure that it would appeal to an elementary school age audience.
"We didn't even know what our roles were at first because we made them up," she added. "But it was so fun because I could control what I say. It was like creative writing."
The audience at the Haverhill Public Library on October 26 differed from that of the troupe's prior performances because there were more adults than children, but that didn't stop the actors from enjoying that challenge, and all the others that arise from taking a show on the road.
"It was really cool to be doing this in another place again," said Emily Choe '20 during the ride back to campus post-show. "Wherever you are, the volume translates differently. I could hear myself better here in Haverhill than in the schools we went to. Your blocking changes in each place, too, and you have to adjust to the audience participation. I like it a lot but it's mind boggling when you first start. It's fun to see everyone adjust to the space as we're doing it."
The troupe has four more productions, then it's time to show the folks back home at Brooks what they've been up to with a performance in Brooks' new black box theater.
And Caroline Samoluk '21, for one, cannot wait! "It looks so professional," she said. "I'm so excited to be in the new space. I've spent so much time anticipating it. Just being able to fully experience this new space is a dream come true!"
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