Spotlight on LNE Theatre

Kaylie Hill, Contributor

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American actor Willem Dafoe once said, “Great theatre is about challenging how we think and encouraging us to fantasize about a world we aspire to.” The Lincoln Northeast Theatre students take this ideal to heart in creating this world on stage through their plays and one-acts. The theatre program at Northeast is a group of around 20 to 30 students that are involved with every area of play production. The majority of the group are actors, but a select few students also make up the tech crew and work behind the scenes, so there is something for everyone in the program.

Mr. Bruce Chapman is at the head of the theatre department and is responsible for directing all the plays and one-acts each year. His love for theatre began when he first performed in a Lincoln Community Playhouse show in the 5th grade. Since then, he has spent many years immersed in acting in and directing performances. Chapman’s favorite part of it all is “the opportunity to get lost in a live performance.” “There’s magic in theatre,” he says.

However, as the director of the theatre program at Northeast, Chapman’s focus is on displaying student talent that is otherwise unrecognized. Performing two full length plays and two one-acts per year not only requires talent, but hard work and commitment, both of which are highly valued and prominent in the program. The whole cast and crew spend many weeks practicing and preparing for each performance.

Each play comes with its own challenges; some have a lot of costume changes to maneuver, some have many props to keep track of, some have multiple set changes to perform. The whole cast agrees that their recent play, The Lark, presented the biggest challenge of line-learning. The play, a creative retelling of the story of Joan of Arc, was written by French author Jean Anouilh in 1952. This meant that after translation, the majority of the script was made up of lengthy monologues in older-fashioned language, which gave all the cast members a tough time during memorization. Furthermore, all characters were on stage during the entirety of the play so they did not have a chance to peek at their scripts between scenes. All in all, it was a long, difficult road throughout rehearsal, but the cast and crew pulled it off beautifully for two great performances.

Next, the theatre department will be working on their anticipated end-of-year Night of One-Acts. The event is most popular because the theatre students perform their last play of the year, but also because Northeast teachers and staff perform a one-act as well. The plays on this night are almost always silly and fun. Students enjoy seeing familiar adult faces from around the building portraying goofy characters. The cast agrees that it is fun to see their teachers take a crack at acting as well, and it brings more awareness to the theatre program.

The cast and crew are always changing and growing as new people are added to the program. The group is very inclusive as nearly everyone who tries out gets a part, creating a flexible, supportive and judgement-free environment. This is what Chapman likes best about the program at Northeast. “It is difficult to find nicer students in the school than theatre students,” he says. Additionally, Chapman says it is these students that drive the theatre program and make it better. Students help direct, design lighting and sound cues, make props, and design posters. They often take initiative to have rehearsals whenever they can get together outside of scheduled times. If it were not for these dedicated students, the Northeast theatre program would not have the success it has now.

As far as expanding, Chapman says that the program is always looking for new people with talent and dedication to theatre. Northeast senior Haileigh Lowell joined theatre at the beginning of her sophomore year after a friend encouraged her to do so, and she has been involved ever since. Her favorite part of it all is being able to connect with the other students in theatre. “I love making new friends with students of all grade levels,” she says. Many theatre members agree that the program offers a supportive platform for new friendships. Lowell credits the program for helping her meet new people and encourages others to audition for the same reason. As advice for other students looking to be involved, all she has to say is, “join theatre!”

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