July 18, 2019

(un)Masked THIS WEEK! The 2015 Spring One Act

(un)Masked THIS WEEK! The 2015 Spring One Act DATE: 02-10-2015

February 8, 2015- This year’s One Act performance, (un)Masked, directed by English teacher, Melissa Wyman, is arguably one of the most exciting performances yet, according to cast members, RJ Daigle (11th), Rowan Sedlak (9th), Clara Posner (9th) and Marlene Marcou (11th). When asked what excites them about the One Act, they respond, “We’ve created the show ourselves!” They gushed enthusiastically about the opportunity that they have to produce these plays from brainstorming to performing. Veteran One-Act member, RJ Daigle explains, “We’re addressing and playing with the stereotypes of high school personalities and the way that when people hide behind masks, we hide who we truly are. From the stock Italian characters like harlequin, corabella, boss, brighella and zanni, we’re using modern, stereotypical-teen types, like, jock, white girl, emo, hipster, nerd, freak, innocent, and dropping them into familiar high school settings.” First-year One-Act cast member, Rowan Sedlak elaborates, “Society expects everyone to be happy and if you aren’t, then you’re an outsider. That’s why we wear the mask: to hide what’s truly bothering us.”

This year’s production, (un)Masked, is an adaptation of the classic Italian theatre format, commedia dell’arte, in which actors wear masks to take on stock characters, dropping them into various improvised scenes. It is inevitably funny and exciting to see how the actors navigate their characters to their predetermined destination. The contemporary twist in Wyman’s production is that these archetypes have been updated to parallel modern teenage stereotypes. “It’s commedia dell’arte in the most modern and yet classic way,” says Wyman. Her simple statement underscores her unique ability to see ancient themes from western-art replay themselves all around us. “It’s a loose string of improvised narratives where the stock characters ask us to consider the masks we wear as we navigate society. Improvisation forces students to take risks and explore those concepts in contemporary social issues.”

Melissa Wyman took over the direction of the Hartford High School Spring One Act three years ago. Wyman acted and studied theatre at UVM and brings this passion of hers to each new cast. Under her leadership, she altered the format of the annual, original, One Act play at Hartford and proposed that students take the reins in multiple roles as writers, thespians, managers and technicians. In 2012, students adapted Sophocles’ Greek tragedy, Antigone, to bring ancient lessons to bear on 21st century politics in Occupy Antigone; 2013, Delete, asked audience members to imagine a world where all of our electronic devices suddenly cease to function (yikes!). This year, in addition to modernizing classic art once again, students are using a new tool to contribute music to their mise en scene, the online interactive library of the Free Music Archive [FMA].

Come and check out our own (un)Masked, an original, improvised, insightful comedy this Friday, February 13th and Saturday, February 14th at 7:00 p.m. in the high school Auditorium. Tickets are $5 at the door. Hartford will host this year’s Regional One Act Festival on Saturday, February 28, so you can return to see this year’s competition!

-Alexis Nelson