On a world stage BG's 'Anatomy' gets international fest invite
Written by DAVID DUPONT Sentinel Arts & Entertainment Editor
Tuesday, 04 June 2013 09:43
The Bowling Green High School's Drama Club has been welcomed to the world stage.
|Bowling Green Senior High School students, from left, Cara Brosius, Ellie Meyer, Christina Gavarone and Brad Bozzo rehearse “Anatomy of Gray.” (Photo: J.D. Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune)
The local troupe will participate in the International Thespian Festival at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, Neb. at the end of June.
Their production of "Anatomy of Gray" will be one of 14 plays selected for a main stage show.
"The prospect is both terrifying and exciting," said Veronica Gonzalez, one of the cast of 18.
She, along with cast mate Grace Easterly, have already been to the international festival.
And they know that the actors in the main stage shows are the stars of the event.
Typically the performers in those shows exude dedication to their craft, Easterly said. "They put out 150 percent."
Typically main stage shows play before audiences of more than 800, Veronica Gonzalez said.
"Anatomy of Gray" selected by an independent panel of screeners for participation, said JoBeth Gonzalez, the high school drama director.
Making it to the international festival is a costly endeavor. The application fee alone was $1,100, the director said. The school thespians have been working hard to finance the trip. They paid for the initial cost by doing housekeeping services for a day at Cedar Point. Once accepted to the festival the troupe set a goal of raising $12,000.
That "offsets a good part of the fees to the students," JoBeth Gonzalez, who is Veronica's mother, said. The club also had some savings that are being applied to the trip.
"When we received the invitation we weren't sure we deserved it," Justin Brown said. But any reservations had to be set aside because they knew they'd have to work hard to take their performance to a higher level.
"Anatomy of Gray" was selected in part, JoBeth Gonzalez said, "because this play was really going to up the bar for us on acting skills."
The play could be staged with just a couple pieces of furniture, she said, so all the attention is on the actors. "You need really good actors. We knew our students were ready to do that and wanted to do that."
The cast is relatively small. A fall production, she said, usually has about 40 students. "Anatomy of Gray" has 18, nine speaking roles and nine townspeople. That meant every speaking role had an understudy. The understudies in fall had a chance to perform the show. It also meant that, the director always had a full cast of lead characters on hand for rehearsals.
Cast member Jeremiah Wruckey said the small cast was a benefit. "It was more focused than the usual high school production."
Baxter Chambers said the more intense rehearsals helped them "focus in on developing our relationships with the other characters."
The story finds the town of Gray in 1880s Indiana in the grip of a mysterious ailment. A Jewish doctor also named Gray and played by Chambers, shows up as the savior.
"People panic when they don't know what's causing a disease," JoBeth Gonzalez said. The cast had to study the history of the time at the same time they delved into themes with contemporary resonance.
Samantha Hudson says at one point her character get into a discussion of abortion.
"There's a spiritual thread throughout this play," JoBeth Gonzalez said. "We have to talk about forgiveness, strength and where blame should lie."
Still, "it combines serious themes with comedy," Hudson noted.
"There is a lot of dry, sarcastic humor," Chambers said.
That didn't come out, the director said, until the show was performed in front of a live audience, and people laughed.
"We spent so much time digging into the serious topics we forgot how funny it was," she said.
The play also incorporates music, mostly in the form of congregational singing.
Looking forward to the trip to Nebraska, Chamber said: "I'm excited to show what we've put together and meet people like us from around the country."
For Wruckey the trip offers "a chance to spend a week straight with friends before we go off to college."