MHS students at rehearsal for Pride and Prejudice MHS students Julianna Burke (Elizabeth), Ryan Gilliam (Mr. Darcy) and Bri Hale (Lady Catherine) rehearse for Pride and Prejudice MHS students Ryan Gilliam (Mr. Darcy) and Julianna Burke (Elizabeth) rehearse a scene from Pride and Prejudice
Marshwood High School Actors Travel Back in Time for Pride and Prejudice
Ask Marshwood High School junior Ryan Gilliam about romance between people from different backgrounds, and he will tell you, “No matter where two people come from, they can click, no matter where they were born or who their friends are.” He is not, however, talking about life in high school, but life in England in the early 1800s.
Gilliam portrays Mr. Darcy in the upcoming MHS Theater presentation of Jane Austen’s classic Pride and Prejudice, May 29, 30, and 31 at 7 pm. He and the other student actors are discovering that although the novel was written 200 years ago, its themes of love, longing and finding one’s place in the world are timeless, and ones to which they can relate. Senior Bri Hale, who portrays Lady Catherine de Bourgh, relates to “the way people make assumptions about each other, and don’t know the whole story, and watching that play out in this play. It’s what happens in life, too.”
This tale of manners, romance, societal norms and resistance to them, revolves around the Bennet family, and Mrs. Bennet’s efforts to find husbands for her five daughters. The story of independent and spirited daughter Elizabeth and her ongoing sparring and eventual romance with Mr. Darcy is central to the novel, but the story contains many featured and fascinating roles.
Josh Livingston has been directing plays at MHS since 2000, and he and fellow English teacher Stacie Cocola have been co-directing the spring drama since 2007.
Livingston chooses the plays, and when asked how he goes about it, he states, “We want a play that offers engaging and complex roles for students to explore, a play that will make the actors reach and grow, as artists and as people. In my mind, theatre is at its best when it challenges both the cast and the audience to reconsider perspectives, to encounter something new and unexpected, to ponder, to wonder…”
He chose Pride and Prejudice because he was “looking for something with a lot of significant roles, especially female roles.” Students are making connections with the text. Senior Julianna Burke, who portrays Elizabeth, says, “Within the confines of the time period, she is a really progressive character. She doesn’t want to marry someone just because it’ll give her a better social standing. She’s not bent on pleasing a guy.”
The students are clearly learning from their directors. “They are so supportive and give such good advice”, says sophomore Maren McKenna, who portrays Mrs. Bennet. “There is such a concentration on every word,” says senior Suzannah Blass, who plays middle sister Mary. “Every single thing your character is doing has a purpose.”
Cocola explains some of the engaging ways they coach the students: “We try to incorporate exercises as warm up activities to help build on their character development or areas where we think they may need support on stage, such as exploring the many different ways you can deliver the same line, acting with the whole body,
creating visual interest — you should be able to take a snapshot of the stage at any time and that picture should tell a story.”
“It’s a challenge to discover and portray a character from another time and place, but also to recognize and convey that the basic struggles and desires for happiness and security pretty much remain the same”, adds Livingston.
While the students’ experiences of growth and learning are their first concern, Livingston and Cocola are sure that audiences will love this new Simon Reade stage adaptation of the novel, which Livingston finds to be “fresh, hip and funny”. Several of the students commented on the humor in Pride and Prejudice. Burke called it “the original rom-com. There’s a lot of humor in it. It’s a great love story and everyone loves a love story.”
Pride and Prejudice can be seen at Marshwood High School Thursday May 29, Friday, May 30, and Saturday May 31 at 7 p.m.Tickets are $7 at the door. For more information, call 207-384-4500 or go to Marshwood Theater on facebook.
Pride and Prejudice
Marshwood High School
Thursday May 29, Friday May 30, Saturday May 31
Tickets $7 at the door
More info 207-384-4500 or Marshwood Theater page on facebook.