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Yosemite High Theater Arts: Bringing A Town To Life

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Mary Weigel and Amber Persson in Our Town

OAKHURST — The Yosemite High School Theater Arts Department is hard at work on their fall production, Thornton Wilder’s timeless classic Our Town. The production will run for three nights on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, Dec. 1 – 3 at 7 p.m. in the Yosemite High School theatre.

It’s quite a challenge. The play is a simple story about people in a small town who live and fall in love and marry and die. It is very much about those real tangible things in life that we often forget as we whiz through our technology-driven world. For the students to have to connect on a basic human level with each other, and communicate those emotions to an audience raised on Twitter and Google, is daunting.

The students began rehearsals last month and are busy learning lines and practicing pantomime which is an important element to the play.

“I play one of the mothers in the play and I have to pantomime making breakfast three different times in the play,” says YHS senior Laura Pearson. “It’s tricky to remember what to do in what order, and to make it look convincing for the audience.”

Sophomore Amber Persson says she loves the challenge.

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Dylan Thacker and Elise Keeler in Our Town

“It’s interesting to think that women in the early 20th century had to cook using stoves with firewood and milk was delivered every day,” notes Amber. “It is definitely a different world.”

Thornton Wilder wrote the play in 1938, but it’s set between 1901 and 1914. Even as it was written, Wilder wanted his audience to think back to an earlier time.

It’s interesting that even though this play is old, it is still one of the most performed plays in the world. It was seen on the new York stage as recently as 2010, and it is often credited with being the most performed play by any American author.

Yosemite High School last performed the play in 1999, before I began teaching at the school, and I think it’s time to bring the show back. The students agree that it’s a good choice.

“I have never played a character before with such honest and strong emotions,” senior Elise Keeler says. “During the play I am kind of snotty, and scared and happy and strong. The character Emily stands up for what she believes in, and not many people do that these days.”

yhs-theater-arts-2016-17-our-town-family-full-size-photo-courtesy-lars-thorsonDuring the performance of Our Town, the YHS Art Department will have a small show in the theater.

“The Art department is pleased to present works of art that reflect on what life is like for young people living in a similar community,” artist and teacher Evan Higgins adds.

“One hundred years after the play takes place, do we still experience the same joys, and failures? How do honor and character play a part in our lives, and do we still struggle with the same challenges and rejoice in the same triumphs? Let’s find out on opening night.”

Higgins will be choosing art from all of his classes and is excited to collaborate with the Theater Arts Department on this project.

For information about Our Town or the art show, please call (559) 683-4667.

Lars Thorson is Chairman of the YHS Theater Arts Department

About Lars Thorson

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