The theater building for the Willows Community School was filled on Sunday afternoon, June 12. The audience in the darkened house was intensely involved with the actors onstage. What most of them knew was that they were also watching the writers, the set crew, the costumers and the graphic designers. The Senior Seminar presentation of two one-act plays , Follow the Leader and The Veldt was the kind of self- propelled performance the only comes from those who are deeply dedicated to their craft.
When AVPA Theater Director Sheila Silvers took a medical leave earlier this year, the seniors in the theater seminar were told that they could not do the performance they had planned as theater-in-the-round for the Sony Black Box Theater on the CCHS campus. They carried on with their plans, and made a connection that helped to carry them through.
Susannah Funnell, the head of Visual Arts at the Willows, is also a parent of a CCHS student, and she was there to help the kids move the production over to the other side of Culver City. The private school’s theater was not being used on the dates wanted for the Senior Seminar, and so the production was re-staged for a proscenium arch, and set to go.
Emma Niles, one of the directors of the show, noted that “All of us in the Senior Seminar have faced many obstacles in putting on these two shows, (and) I am extremely proud of everyone’s work and commitment. ”
In a program designed by Sierra Parsons, (also the leading lady of The Veldt) Kevin Mitchell offered his take on the growing pains and successes of the seminar. “First, the class agreed on plot, characters and actions, then we improvised the dialogue to find lines that worked for each character. Emma and I wrote the drafts for the class to read through, and their comments were invaluable to finishing the play.”
When the graduates of the AVPA theater program walk down the aisle this Friday to take their diplomas, they can be deeply pleased with the rough road they have walked, and all that they have learned. It’s everything that happens offstage that gives an actor the moment on the boards.