Drama club prepares for first production of 2016-17 year


By Ashleigh Garrison |

After months of stage blocking, rehearsing and line memorizing, IA East’s Drama Club is in its final stages of preparation for the production of the school year, The 39 Steps. Dress and tech rehearsals are set to be held Monday and Tuesday night. The show will run this Wednesday and Thursday at 7 p.m. in the cafetorium.

The 39 Steps is a thriller with elements of comedy, originally written for a cast a four. Drama club’s rendition includes 16 students and 10 staff members, each with different levels of acting experience. Preparation for the play began in May of 2016. Students sat in on read-throughs of the script to learn more about the play. Then, individual auditions were held, giving students an opportunity to demonstrate interest and acting ability. Callbacks were held later to give director, Marc Vickers, an idea of how students interact with one another on stage. Vickers has been directing plays for over 20 years. For him, it’s all about stage dynamics.

“Everyone has to fit just right,” he said.

But the lead role, Richard Hannay, wasn’t finalized until the beginning of the year and is played by 15-year-old freshman, Emily Mann.

Though this is Mann’s first production at IA East, she’s been performing since adolescence. From singing and dancing in front of her family to performing in theater class, she’s always had a knack for entertaining others. Mann joined drama club at the beginning of this year with hopes of developing her passion and also get to know upperclassmen. Mann doesn’t mind the large commitment, and she’s developed a strong liking for the character she plays.

“During the first half, he doesn’t initiate much of the conversation or dialogue. During the second half, however, he takes control more often and everything turns out alright because of the choices that he makes,” said Mann. “I’d describe him as charismatic, bold, and flirtatious.”

Mann also developed a love for drama club itself. As preparation continued, she found herself constantly thinking about the production. Initially shy and quiet, she blossomed into a more outgoing version of herself in rehearsals.

The production process was both long and tedious. From gathering props to getting the soundtrack for the sound effects just right, the production team worked hard to prepare.

“Every minute of performance time takes an hour of rehearsal time, so I put in about 100 hours per production,” said Vickers.

The rehearsal process began with stage blocking, then progressed to line reading. Though Vickers has been directing theatre for over 20 years, each play comes with its own challenges. And because of the large cast, challenges were all the more for The 39 Steps. Vickers notes that it was sometimes difficult to schedule rehearsals convenient for both the teachers’ and students’ schedules.

The play also features plenty of sound and lighting effects. Senior Zayan Khan controls the lighting and sound for the production. Khan joined drama club in his junior year, and finds it to be a creative outlet in such a competitive, academic environment.

“It’s dramatic, it’s fun. It’s something to look forward to,” said Khan.

Khan prepares the sound board and lighting, and makes sure that everything is connected to the right outputs. He also assisted Principal Brinks in setting up the technology for performance day.

Club members are ready for everyone to see their hard work, from actors to backstage crew members. Mann, in particular, is hoping for a large turnout. Along with an interesting plot with plenty of surprises, she believes students will enjoy seeing their friends take out very different personas. There’s also a cameo from Assistant Principal, Ryan Brinks.

“If you don’t come see the show for me, then please, see it for the other characters and the plot. Help us expand IA East’s Drama Club and come see some great theatre,” she said.

Tickets are for sale during lunch and at the door for $5.


About the Author: Senior Ashleigh Garrison joined newspaper club in her junior year. Along with being a reporter for The Phoenix Forum, she also served as an editor for world news and professional sports. She particularly enjoys writing event coverage articles and hopes to break into opinion writing soon.


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