Theater programs enrich the high school experience
By Jadyn Fisher
In the depths of the 200 performing arts building is a classroom painted completely black, but it’s home to a variety of bright students and big personalities. This room full of spontaneity and life is the “black box,” and it doubles as the theater classroom for hundreds of students at Sandra Day O’Connor High School (OC). For schools in Deer Valley Unified School District (DVUSD) and beyond, theater is a large part of many students’ school life, during and outside of the 7-hour school day.
Amy Alley, a junior at O’Connor, has been in the program since the summer before her freshman year and recently played the lead role of Audrey in the school’s production of Little Shop of Horrors. “I’d done a few community theater shows, and loved theater,” Alley states. “My issue was that I wanted a more local and family-like theater experience, and high school theater really provided that for me. I always knew I wanted to act on a stage when I was younger, and the opportunity to do so in a class at school seemed too good to pass up!”
Alley continues by saying, “Theater is and has been a positive creative outlet. It’s provided me with plenty of friends and opportunities I really couldn’t get outside of the arts… it’s diversified my friend groups, allowed me to be a part of something much bigger than myself, and been something to look forward to constantly” – which is a statement nearly anyone involved in these types of creative programs can vouch for. Theater allows a warm and welcoming ambiance for anyone who needs a place in the high school environment, which can be intimidating at times. Even if you haven’t acted before and can’t sing for the life of you, the students in the program raise each other up and help each other grow. The tech and stage production teams always appreciate extra help as well and are just as welcoming.
Although the program does not get much funding, all the students involved in shows and drama club make the best of what they do have and the relatively short time spans they are given to produce a finished product. In the school’s recent production of Little Shop of Horrors, the effort of every student in the cast and on tech really shined through to the audience. “I want the public to know that our shows are good,” Alley says. “It’s funny to say that, but the stereotypical high school theater shows are really not what we put on. The effort put in our art really shows.”
Every scene was expertly crafted in the few short months they rehearsed. The energy of the actors and the fact they all had an immense passion toward what they were doing brought it all together and made the show incredible.
All in all, the theater program at OC offers a lot more than just an after-school hobby or fine arts credit for your transcript. It creates friendships and bonds stronger than most and gives students a purpose and reason to be excited to come to school every day. For more information on OC’s programs, visit the school website (dvusd.org/sdohs) and click “Get Involved,” then “The Arts,” or visit your home school/community theater for more specific information on programs near you.