CA Junior Davis Ebel discovered a love for performing when he took three trimesters of acting classes during his freshman year at Colorado Academy. He admits he “enjoys being on stage to make people laugh,” and he had a chance to do that by participating in the 24-Hour Play Project, which is theater by students for students.
In addition to the 24-Hour Play Project, the 2017-2018 season will offer Ebel and other Upper School CA students many opportunities to perform in a variety of productions including:
- Lucky Stiff, a murder mystery farce of mistaken identities, millions in diamonds and a wheelchair-bound corpse.
- Eurydice, the ancient myth of Orpheus told from the perspective of Eurydice, his wife.
- Two plays, one with a mostly female cast directed by a man and another with an all-male cast directed by a woman, performed in repertory.
- The 24-Hour Play Project, with scenes written, directed, and performed by students working for an intense, short period of time.
- A children’s outreach performance of The World of Shel Silverstein.
The Conservatory of Theater brings together a collection of people who, regardless of former training and experience, wish to work in a focused and disciplined environment toward a common goal of creating excellent theater. As the study of acting and directing has evolved at CA, what was once an annual season of two Upper School productions at Colorado Academy has grown to include four major productions.
“Theater at CA seeks to offer all students the opportunity to study the art of Acting and Theater Production in a full and serious format regardless of level of expertise,” says Director of Visual and Performing Arts Julianne De Sal, Ph.D. “If we don’t let them dive in, how will they know the breadth of what they can do? On a Conservatory level, we train students who are planning to continue on to a professional theater career and also students who simply wish to have a challenging and valued experience in a nurturing, positive, and progressive environment.”
The season begins in the first week of November with two plays: Girls like That, a play about the stresses of social media on fragile adolescent female friendship, directed by Maclain Looper, and American Buffalo, which tells the gritty tale of three petty thieves entangled in a bungled burglary attempt, directed by Dr. De Sal. Students may perform in one play and assist in the other production in some way through set work, public relations, ushering and other production needs. Dr. De Sal and Looper see this as a pathway to introduce CA students to an experience similar to a professional repertory circuit. Both plays are thought-provoking and will evoke healthy student conversation.
“This community of expression is what theater was to the Greeks,” says Dr. De Sal. “It inspires thought and discussions on who we are as social beings, and where we are going in our world today. Our constant question and point of assessment is, what does it mean to educate children artistically in the 21st century?”
February will bring an updated version of Eurydice, directed by Maclain Looper, to the basement black box theater. In April, students will perform Lucky Stiff, a musical farce based on the 1983 novel, The Man Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo. The Conservatory of Dance will hold its second annual “In Concert ’18.” The Middle School play, Babes in the Wood, directed by James Meehan, will take place during the first trimester, and the Lower School play will take place during the third trimester. Students taking Advanced Acting and other CA Upper School students who don’t have time to rehearse in a major after-school production will perform The World According to Shel Silverstein as a children’s theater outreach performance.
For students who cannot devote weeks of rehearsal to a performance but still want to take a turn on stage, there is an excellent alternative—the 24-Hour Play Project. Even though Davis Ebel enjoys acting, he plays three sports—golf in fall, basketball in winter, and baseball in spring. With his commitment to sports, theater would be out of the question if it weren’t for the 24-Hour Play project.
The 24-Hour Play project has become a sought-after opportunity for students at CA. Students (and some faculty) writers are connected with student directors and actors. On a wintry Saturday morning in January, they come together with their faculty mentors for a day of intense rehearsal and production, which culminates in an evening performance of a series of scenes.
“During rehearsal, they do what professional playwrights do,” Dr. De Sal says. “If a line doesn’t feel right in performance, they rewrite it. This project includes actors, writers, and directors all working together.”
For Ebel, the reward came at the end of that long rehearsal day when—to a full house and some hearty laughs—he played an entomologist who managed to identify a bug found in a fellow diner’s restaurant soup, a scene written by Upper School Principal Jonathan Vogels, Ph.D.
“When you are done, you feel a great sense of accomplishment,” Ebel says. “It’s also a great bonding experience, because you really get to know people better.”
Dr. De Sal describes her vision for CA’s many theater and dance opportunities with words like “generous, thriving, challenging, and mature,” an environment where students grow as young artists and fine human beings. To her, the 2017-2018 Upper School theater season will be another year when students can experience highest quality performing arts at a school that also offers highest quality academics and athletics.
“We are always striving towards excellence,” she says. “We hope that whatever our students go on to do in their lives, they are more aware human beings, because they see the world through the veil of art.”
Get Your Tickets!
- American Buffalo (Basement Theater): November 1 & 3, 2017 at 7 p.m., and November 4 at 2 p.m.
- Girls Like That (Froelicher Theatre): November 2 & 4, 2017 at 7 p.m., and November 5 at 2 p.m.
- Babes In The Wood (Froelicher Theatre): November 16 & 17, 2017 at 7 p.m.
- Ticket prices: $5.00 for students and $10.00 for adults