News and Tribune

March 25, 2014

New Albany High School theater: judged and good to go

Program going to international festival in June


NEW ALBANY — With one shot to wow them, they took the stage and made sure this run was their best.

Their efforts paid off. Students in New Albany High School’s Theater Arts Program got their first invitation in two years to take a show to the International Thespian Festival in June in Lincoln, Neb.

“Antigone,” a Greek tragedy, is a departure from the musicals the school has taken in the past. But two seniors in the show said that might have been what caught the attention of the judges in the audience on March 8.

Kyle Bolen, who went to the festival under David Longest’s direction in their joint show with Floyd Central High School, “The Drowsy Chaperone,” said it was tough knowing someone was in the audience doing more than watching. But he said it apparently caught the attention of judges from the International Thespian Society.

“I believe that we had more energy that night than the rest of our performances,” Bolen, a member of the chorus and a featured aerialist, said. “That night, we were all just as one going on stage rather than just going in and doing a show.”

Gina Cisto, the school’s director, got a translation of the show from Cornell University’s David Feldsuh. That version of the play, compiled from 12 different translations, had never been performed by a high school theater group.

Featuring fight scenes, acrobatic silks hung from the stage and other dynamics, Bolen said it was a big challenge for the students, especially since none of them really had any acrobatics training prior to this show.

“For the aerialists, we all had to do our routines together as one,” Bolen said. “We always had to watch each other to make sure we were always doing the same thing at the same time.”

Libby Schuld, double-cast as a member of the chorus and Eurydice, said though the show was out of the realm of what the school had taken to the festival before, it was still fun to put on stage.

“In the past, we’d done happy-go-lucky shows like ‘The Music Man’ or ‘Mary Poppins,’” Schuld said. “It was nice and breath of fresh air to act something different, but it was hard to channel that.”

But because the show wasn’t a comedy,  she said it was difficult to stay energetic throughout the performance, especially with the sadness throughout the play.

“With a musical, with all the numbers, there’s always dancing going on,” Schuld said. “Usually, everyone’s happy in a musical and this was a Greek tragedy. It was hard to keep our energy up when the energy of the show was really very depressing.”

Bolen said not only that, but an adjudicated show has its own set of challenges. Without a chance to rest up from scene to scene, he said it was hard for the cast to catch a breath.

“The hard part for us was that we were on stage the whole time,” Bolen said. “You couldn’t get tired during the middle of the show. Usually, you have time to go off and get rested for the next scene, but we were on the whole entire show. You had to stay in character the whole entire time.”

But both seniors said they were happy to end their careers at the high school on a high note.