November 6, 2003


Working on tight schedule and with new director—

For drama club, the show goes on


YSHS students Mori Rothman, left, and Glenn Reed rehearsing, ‘The Tempest,’ which opens tonight (Thursday).


Not long ago things didn’t look promising for the fall play of the Yellow Springs High School Drama Club. The group had a date for the production but not much else — no play, no director, no place to perform.

Six weeks later, it’s clear that, due to some luck and a whole lot of their own grit and determination, the kids have pulled it off. The show will go on.

This weekend and next, the group will present Shakespeare’s The Tempest at the Glen Helen Building. Productions will take place Thursday–Saturday, Nov. 6–8 and Nov. 13–15, at 8 p.m., and Sunday, Nov. 9 and 16, at 2 p.m.

“This group of people is pretty exceptional and dedicated,” cast member Rose Byrnes said last weekend. “We didn’t choose to not have a director but we overcame it. Everyone was open to doing what it took to make the play happen.”

That dedication was evident last weekend. As the bikepath next to the Glen Helen Building hummed with activity due to the unseasonably warm weather, inside the building the young people spent Saturday and Sunday turning the floor into the sandy beach of a mythical Mediterranean island, creating costumes and practicing their lines.

In late afternoon, they rehearsed the play, one of Shakespeare’s last, a magical tale of family betrayal and forgiveness, romance and adventure. Although the students had had only a few weeks of rehearsal, they spoke Elizabethan English with ease, and looked ready for opening night.

“I’m very excited about it,” said Adam Marple, who stepped in as director only a little over a month ago. “The kids are confident. I ask them, ‘Can you do it?’ and they say, ‘Yes, we can do it.’ ”

Marple, a Wright State University graduate, didn’t know what to expect from Yellow Springs students when he became the director at the end of September, the play’s 11th hour, after veteran director Marcia Nowik was not hired for this fall’s play. He did know that the constraints of last minute theater — no time for elaborate sets — fit squarely with his own preference for simple, no-frills productions.

“My mantra is that if you have actors, empty space and an audience, you can have theater,” he said, adding with a laugh that he sometimes “feels like fate has dealt me a trump card, saying, ‘you said you believe it, now prove it.’ ”

The play’s set will be simple, with the sandy beach floor and an abandoned boat creating the island aura. Marple asked the students to create their own costumes as a way to become their character, he said, and they have done so with verve, selecting from clothing Marple “scavenged and scrounged” from castoffs from Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, as well as the costumes accumulated by Nowik.

So the play, the actors, the set and the costumes are in place, although the stage lighting, as of Sunday, looked iffy, said Marple. He said that he’s been unable to secure lighting due to theater companies’ previous commitments. But with or without stage lighting, the production will happen.

“Part of my stomach is worried but the rest is O.K.,” Marple said, of the play’s last minute challenges. “You could say I have half an ulcer.”

While some parts of the production are anxiety-producing, Marple has no qualms whatsoever about the main element — the acting.

“I was very surprised at the level of talent,” said Marple, who expected to begin the rehearsal process with a “crash course on Shakespeare.” But such a course wasn’t necessary.

“The kids researched, they picked up the language easily,” he said. “They’re smart, I can trust them and they’re great to work with.”

Part of the students’ ease with Shakespeare comes from their home environment, said Marple, who lives in Cincinnati and has been pleasantly surprised by his contact with the Yellow Springs community.

“This is a community of people who appreciate art, who have art in their homes and take their kids to the theater,” he said. “The families are open-minded and they’re teaching their kids to be, too.”

Marple said that he worried about how the students would relate to him, since Nowik has been a long-term, beloved director. But he’s found them very open and accepting, and has also found Nowik helpful and gracious.

The Tempest cast includes Rose Byrnes, Charlie Cromer, Nathania Dallas, James Hyde, Mary Hyde, Lila Lensen, Paia LaPalombara, Glenn Reed, Mori Rothman, Erin Silvert-Noftle and Aaron Zaremsky.

Tickets for the show are $7 for adults and $5 for students and seniors. Due to space limitations, those planning to attend are encouraged to make reservations by calling 767-9467.

—Diane Chiddister