NHS One-Act Play advances

NHS One-Act Play advances
Posted on 03/04/2020
NHS One-Act Play advances

Victoria Perry has a rule for her Nacogdoches High School theatre students during a competition: No celebrating victory until the bus leaves the parking lot.

The departure from Hallsville High School’s long driveway Saturday night must have seemed like an eternity. Video captured by a smartphone shows a darkened bus and shrouded in silence… until the driver left the school premises, when cheering erupted, celebrating the NHS One-Act Play advancement to this weekend’s second round in Lufkin.

NHS performed “Rabbit Hole,” a Pulitzer Prize-winning drama written in 2006 by David Lindsay-Abaire.

The subject matter of the play is intense. A couple – Howie and Becca (played by senior Chris Lymbery and junior Liane Muir) lose their four-year-old son, Danny, who runs into the street and is struck and killed by Jason, a teen driver played by senior Daniel Gomez. It’s a tragic accident where no one is at fault. “Rabbit Hole” picks up the action eight months after Danny’s death, plumbing the depths of the couple’s struggle to cope.

The story portrays Howie and Becca struggling  – albeit in different ways – to come to grips with their son’s death, while the weight of the loss threatens to shred the marriage. “Rabbit Hole” also involves Jason, the teen driver, himself shackled with guilt, who ultimately reaches out to the couple when they hold an open house, part of an attempt to sell their home.

Other characters include Becca’s sister Izzy, played by sophomore Michelle Coffee, and Nat, Izzy’s and Becca’s mother, played by junior Lillian Williams.

“This is a very real, straightforward drama,” Perry said during a break in rehearsal. “It’s very challenging; it’s real acting for the students.”

The judges – and the audience that gathered to watch the performance in Hallsville – reacted strongly to the NHS students’ performance. Chris was named the Top Performer in the competition, while Liane made All-Star Cast and Michelle received Honorable Mention.

The awards for NHS were not limited to actors appearing on the stage. Nelli Garduno, the senior Stage manager, was named to the Outstanding Crew.

The Top Performer award for Chris was the first in Perry’s 14 years teaching at NHS. “It’s a big deal,” she said.

For the contest, the NHS troupe tackled subject matter that might seem beyond the typical teen. For Chris, who lost his father in 2016, it was about drawing on his own life experiences.

“I have a little sister,” he said. “For me, it was always about that. And I could really relate to losing someone close to you.”

Liane called the play “really thought provoking. It’s about the different ways people grieve.”

Then there was the unexpected, such as the audience in Hallsville reacting to some of the surprisingly lighthearted moments that crop up during the performance.

“It felt oddly natural,” Chris said.

“A lot of the marital problems, they’re relatable,” Liane added.

Nacogdoches will have an opportunity to see the performance later this month. “Rabbit Hole” will be on stage at the NHS auditorium at 7 p.m., March 19-21. The performance on March 21 will be a double-billing with Martinsville High School, where Perry’s husband teaches theatre.

Full cast and crew

Becca: Liane Muir, junior, All-Star Cast.

Izzy: Michelle Coffee, sophomore; Honorable Mention All-Star Cast.

Howie: Chris Lymbery, senior; Top Performer.

Nat: Lillian Williams, junior.

Jason: Daniel Gomez, senior.

Nelli Garduno, Stage Manager, senior; Outstanding Crew.

Gracie O'Dell, Assistant Stage Manager and Lights, junior.

Emmanuel Gomez, Lights, junior.

Backstage: Johnny Bean, sophomore; Emma Milstead, sophomore; Charlotte Bradford, freshman; and Mae Johnston, freshman.

NHS art teacher Amanda Heron serves as technical director for the production.

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