GREENFIELD – Friends and colleagues suggested that maybe a student-directed one-act project –where upperclassmen direct their peers in short theater productions — wasn’t exactly the best way for Carolyn Voigt to start her tenure as Greenfield-Central High School’s new drama director.
“People say I’m crazy, and they might be right,” Voigt laughed, but she sees the one-acts as a good opportunity to get an overview of how the theater has been operating and how the students like to work.
Hired in November as an English teacher and drama director at Greenfield-Central High School, Voigt said she hit the ground running, taking over a program mid-year from the previous director, who left behind a dynamic 17-year legacy of memorable productions and hundreds of kids who thought the world of him.
In spite of the naysayers, the student-directed one-acts have been in rehearsal since early January and will take the stage next weekend in the auditorium at Greenfield-Central High School, 810 N. Broadway. Performances are Feb. 9 and 10 at 7 p.m. and Feb. 11 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $8 for adults and $5 for children and students.
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The four plays are all comedies:
•“From the Mouths of Babes,” directed by junior Elaine Hilton, features kids in a daycare center plotting to overthrow their teacher.
•In “When God Comes to Breakfast, Don’t Burn the Toast,” directed by Violet Overstreet, a married couple frantically prepares to receive an unexpected guest.
•A reporter arrives at the “Superhero Sanitarium,” directed by senior Nick Brock, to interview the patients about their abilities, all of whom believe they are superheroes.
•“Just Desserts,” directed by senior Jordan Brickler, pits the family of a recently deceased — and rich — uncle against each other and a lawyer as they argue about their inheritance.
Jordan (Jo) Brickler was honored to be one of the four chosen to direct, she said. The process included filling out a form and writing an essay as to why you’d be a good director, she explained. At the end-of-the-year awards program, the directors were announced.
Although Jo has been with the drama department through four years of high school, and in the Hancock County Children’s Theatre before that – this was her first directing stint.
Directing offered new challenges, she said. Suddenly, she had to think about things she never had to as an actor: set designs and costumes and the way actors deliver lines.
“You can say the same sentence four different ways, and depending on which word you emphasize, it has a different meaning every time,” she said.
Jo gave the sentence, “I never said that” as an example, putting the emphasis on each different word as she repeated it.
Jo faced some bumps along the road in directing her peers. Not every actor in her cast was ready when the deadline came around for lines to be memorized, she said.
“I gave them a little bit of a grace period because they’re not used to that,” she said.
As a true drama kid, Jo was disheartened to learn the theater department budget may not support the expenses of a spring musical production, especially since it’s her senior year.
With the help of Voigt, Jo started a GoFundMe page to raise money to cover the cost of a musical. The campaign, at gofundme.com/gchs-theatre-spring-musical, has already raised more than $100 toward its $1,000 goal.
For Voigt, accepting the job at Greenfield-Central was a little like coming home. She graduated from there in 2013 and was a dedicated member of the very drama department she now oversees. After graduating from Ball State University in December with degrees in English education and theater education, she had barely begun her job hunt when the position at her alma mater opened up.
“Whenever I thought about the theater I wanted to work in, I pictured GC, because it was familiar to me,” she said.
In the meantime, preparations continue for the one-acts.
Voigt spends each rehearsal rotating among the four casts of actors: one group uses the stage, and the others rehearse in a corner of the school in close proximity to the auditorium. She offers guidance to the directors, helping them to set deadlines and expectations for their actors and looks ahead to the next show when it’s her turn to direct.
Going forward, Voigt knows she has big shoes to fill.
“It’s daunting to take over from somebody I know who has inspired so many people,” Voigt said. “I know because he inspired me to become a teacher. But it’s also nice to know that the kids are really passionate about theater because that’s what he modeled for them.”
What: “A Night of One-Acts”
Where: Greenfield-Central High School, 810 N. Broadway
When: Feb. 9 and 10 at 7 p.m. and Feb. 11 at 2 p.m.
Tickets: Tickets are $8 for adults and $5 for children and students.
Greenfield-Central Drama Department has started a campaign to raise money for a spring musical. Donations are welcome at: gofundme.com/gchs-theatre-spring-musical