Almost, Maine, the upper school fall play, opens Thursday, Oct. 26, at 7 p.m., in Hall Student Center. It continues on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 27 and 28, at 7:30 p.m.
This unique play, according to upper school drama teacher Rachel May Cain, takes place in an "unorganized" area of Maine, which explains the title, Almost, Maine. "It also explores the themes of love and magic."
The show features a variety of scenes or vignettes that reflect the many stages of love, from discovery to closure. "The original script calls for only four actors to play all 18 roles," Rachel said. "But I have adjusted that so we have individual actors for all parts.It gives our students more opportunities to be on stage."
The audience will also be on stage. "This draws the audience into the play while allowing our students to experience a more intimate acting environment," she said. "We are able to accommodate 70 individuals on stage, and we are following all ADA and fire code requirements."
The Northern Lights play a large part in the stories being told. "They essentially become an additional character," Rachel said. During the show, they will be projected onto a large beige backdrop at the back of the stage.
Rachel emphasized that she is focusing on offering upper school students a theatre experience, not just an acting opportunity. "There are many students drawn to the theatre program who do not see themselves as on-stage performers. These students learn other aspects of the theatre, all of which can be viable careers in theatre."
In Almost, Maine, students are serving as assistant director, stage manager, sound and lighting technicians, set designers and builders, set crew, costumes managers and hair and make-up artists. Additionally, students are using their skills in graphic design to create the promotional posters.
A member of the school's robotics team has designed a system by which a prop drops to the stage floor. Another student is writing the journals that will be used as props in one of the scenes. "This particular student enjoys writing so he is taking on the persona of the character and creating journal entries in that character's voice. He has discussed the character with the actor playing the role. He also reads from his journals before our rehearsals," Rachel said.
She continued, "I chose this play based on the students we have. Because I have them for four years, I try to select plays that will provide a variety of theatre experiences and genres during their upper school years."
Being part of a theatrical performance, at any level, is a great teacher, Rachel said. "We study human nature, and learn about empathy by walking in another's shoes. These students are accepting others for who they are and truly appreciating each other's talents and abilities."
On a recent afternoon as she sat in Hall Student Center Auditorium prior to a rehearsal, Rachel referenced the many students already gathered for a rehearsal not scheduled to begin for another 30 minutes. "They like to gather here," she said. "They are here because they want to be here. There are no grades attached to this. They just enjoy each other and the chance to spend time with students who might not be in their classes or even their grades."