Students and staff at Sachse High School are working to make the arts more prominent.
Currently more than 200 people strong, the theatre department is working to win more members as well as respect in the community.
Directors Libby Rotan, Joseph Murdock and Timothy Doyle work to create well-rounded actors, giving them experience in all areas of theatre. This, they believe, grows the students in their personal lives.
“A lot of our kids these days aren’t taught to cultivate creativity in the same way that we were,” Rotan said. “Sometimes you get kids in class that don’t know their imagination is as vivid and broad as it really is. If you’re going to create something, you’ve got to be creative. It teaches you to think outside of what you think is possible, and that’s what creates the next app or engineering marvel. It sticks with people and creates fond memories.”
Most skills learned in the theatre apply to off-stage life. The three directors use acting as a means to practice interviews and public speaking. They also claim memorizing lines makes better readers. Doyle once held a successful job building decks, a skill he learned working on sets.
Rotan, Murdock and Doyle want to influence their students to be better people, not just better actors and technicians. They work to make each production impactful for actors and audience alike.
“I think theatre will be the place that shows human connection in a very real way that we don’t always get as much any more,” Rotan said. “We don’t connect in the same ways that we did 20 or 30 years ago. I think it serves as a reminder of how we should connect to each other. I think playwrights these days are taking that into account and making work that tells you to connect with people, not just showing what it looks like. That’s the message of things. It’ll continue to be the place where people make human connection.”
“The arts have been around since the beginning of civilization,” Doyle added. “I don’t think they’re going anywhere anytime soon. It might look a little different – ‘Hamilton’ doesn’t look the same as Rodgers and Hammerstein. But it’s always there. Performance art is the original social media. It’s that way people connect. Theatre is going to look a little different but it’s not going anywhere.”
The potential growth and the ever-evolving nature of the stage are what the students themselves love. Some enjoy the allure of performing. Others are drawn to the ways acting changes them for the better.
“Theatre has taught me to be a leader, not only in my friend group or theatre group, but also in the school,” said sophomore Kaitlyn Collins. “It’s helped me to be more kind to other people, and more respectful. It’s taught me a lot of life skills like being punctual, teamwork, hard work, leadership, respect – so many different things.”
According to theatre students, successful performances hinge on successful rehearsals, which require all members to be present. Not only does this produce responsibility and dependability, but it leads to empathy. Each actor claims that spending so much time in another person’s shoes leads them to be more understanding.
“I wish more people in our generation viewed theatre as a good thing,” said Kristin Gooding, a sophomore. “People go to movies all the time and watch Netflix, but they don’t realize we have live stuff, and they don’t appreciate it live. We’re always on our phones and we don’t have an attention span to last that long. We have an improv group here and people didn’t know about it until we performed at the talent show. Everyone was so excited and having so much fun, but then we have a show and no one shows up. They don’t really have a respect for it.”
Each production takes months of planning. The directors choose the plays as much as six months in advance, spend the summer making schedules and ordering scripts, and rehearse with the students every day for around six weeks.
Cast members must commit most of their evenings to rehearsing, also trying balance schoolwork.
“Theatre and the other arts are highly underestimated,” said sophomore Calib Casteel. “People go to see movies and think it’s awesome. They probably don’t realize that it was done over and over until they got the right cut for that scene. To come to live theatre and see these people do it almost perfect, just once, makes an impact on the people seeing it.”
By Morgan Howard • [email protected]