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The High School Student News Site of The American School in London

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Student led productions

At the beginning of each year, Drama Teacher Buck Heron invites eager drama students to direct the High School production of their choice. This semester Effie Ogino (’19) and Kat Smith (’19) will showcase their abilities by co-directing Paul Zindel’s Pulitzer Prize-winning drama: The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds. Aveleigh Baker (’17) will also direct Patrick Hamilton’s ‘Rope.’

“Gamma Rays” is the story of a dysfunctional family trying to cope with their abysmal lives. The characters are emotional and raw, consisting of an abusive and self centred single mother and her two downtrodden daughters. Alcoholism, drug-abuse, self loathing and violence feature front and center, creating an emotionally-charged production which is thoughtfully directed by Ogino and Smith.

The subject matter immediately attracted the first-time theater directors. The idea of spreading awareness of difficult, often tragic, family situations was something they both felt strongly about. “The reason we picked this show is because it’s all about family abuse and the impact it has on people, like an alcoholic mother whose mental issues get in the way of her children’s lives,” Ogino said.

“[These] issues happen in every community, and we can’t ignore the fact that it happens here too. So, we wanted to do something that would shed light on that,” Smith said.

Ogino agrees, and adds that “we thought [it would] be good to bring up the conversation about [family abuse] in the school.”

Teaming up as co-directors made sense for both students who had not previously directed a theater production and additionally felt they could make the significant time commitment between them necessary to have the project succeed.

Both Ogimo and Smith have had a long and consistent passion for acting, each appearing in “High School Musical: The Musical” last year. Smith has plans to continue acting in the future but feels that this project demands her time solely as a director. “Once I leave this school, I don’t want to close the door [on] acting for the rest of my life because that’s something I’ve been doing since as long as I can remember,” she said.

At this point, Smith wants to focus on directing and is thinking about this discipline as a potential college major. “I want to prioritize directing, and want to go to school for [directing in the future]. Once, down the road, if I’m more successful, maybe I can start doing that. But I want to build up to the point where I can [act], and have that not affect my career in directing.”

Ogino also shares this aspiration. “I have a dream to be a movie director. Last year I directed a film, and I would like to continue that, but I was really interested in directing a play as well to see the other types of directing experiences.”

On the other hand, Baker has taken the challenge of directing “Ropes” by herself, in order to further her directing career, and prepare for her future.

“Ropes” tells the story of two young university students, who murder their fellow student in order to reveal their intellectual superiority. Set in Mayfair in the 1920’s, and containing a unique yet gruesome plot, it’s thrilling scenes are continuous and accentuated by the curtain fall at the end of each act.

Baker always wanted to direct ,but said she was too scared to do it. Last year, I did all the costumes for the [“The Heidi Chronicles”}, so I showed that I could handle the workload. So I decided, might as well try it out this year,” Baker said.

Baker, who is headed  for Queen’s University Film School Canada, looks forward to her future in directing, and holds high hopes in pursuing it as a career.

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