LIHUE — Students learn about teamwork and life skills on the stage.
The Island School Theatre Company will be presenting a theatrical production of “The Outsiders” this weekend at the school’s main hall.
“Theater arts trains students in so many life skills,” said co-director, Peggy Ellenburg of Island School Theatre Arts. “They learn firsthand how to work as a team and to appreciate the strengths of their fellow players.”
“The Outsiders” is based on a coming-of-age novel by S. E. Hinton published in 1967. Hinton was 15 when she started writing the novel and did most of the work as a 16-year-old high school junior, a similar age to the student actors. The plot follows two rival groups divided by their socioeconomic status.
The story is told in first-person narrative by 14-year-old Ponyboy Curtis, played by freshman Jaden April, who who lives with his older brothers Sodapop, played by sophomore James Triplett, and Darry, played by junior Max Movighar, after their parents passed away in a car accident.
“This my first major role,” April said. “There’s a lot of lines. It’s hard to memorize, but once you get a flow and are able to connect what you say to the next sentence, then you can do it better. I’ve spent more than 15 hours going over lines.”
They are members of a Greaser gang and considered hoods or juvenile delinquents by society. Other than being financially and socially disadvantaged, their main problem is getting jumped by the Socs (short for Socials), rich kids from the Westside.
The other members of the gang are played by freshman Sierra Dias, junior Aspen Wolfgang and freshman Paulina Do.
“I want to major in theater when I go to college,” Wolfgang said. “I play a kinda cool guy who flirts with girls and has been in jail and through hard times. I have been in three plays in my entire life, and I’ve played boys every single time. It’s fun.”
Members of the Socs gang are played by juniors Pierce Bivens, Lennart Bürgers, Maria Grigarova and freshman Abby Katherine Polzin.
“It’s not just the vocabulary and free speaking in English,” said Bürgers, an exchange student from Switzerland, “it’s acting, the costumes and everything, just working as a team. The play is in the ’60s, but you’re going to see something about a topic that still exists in our society right now.”
“When I’m not on stage I like watching other people perform, knowing them off stage and looking at the similarities,” Polzin said. “Being in other plays, I feel like this one is very different. It’s very interesting to learn how people were back then, what they wore and how they acted.”
Other cast members include junior Cassie Rector, sophomore Mia Lopez and freshman Callie Yavinsky, who plays three separate minor roles.
“I love the thrill of it, because I’m throwing on different costumes and knowing different lines and talking different as all the three,” Yavinsky said. “I’ve learned how to talk with more reflection and diction and louder so the audience can hear you. There’s lot of cool scenes, the rumble is especially fun.”
The theatrical show is co-directed by Ellenburg and teacher Alice April.
“It’s interesting to see them comparing the youth of yesteryear to today and see how they interacted across the social boundaries back then,” Alice said. “I think they’re seeing some similarities and differences in the way we handle things. The kids here give each other room to be more expressive and to have more individuality.”
“I think it’s been a good learning lesson for them too,” she added.
“The Outsiders” marks Ellenburg’s 83rd Island School production.
“With every theatre production, I watch young people rise to the occasion and, as part of a group, achieve more than they ever could alone,” Ellenburg said. “Island School emphasizes the arts as essential to a complete education.”
The technical crew is led by volunteer, Chris “Angus” Sweitzer, who is mentoring students, sophomore Leimomi Rosa on lights and senior Hannah Wheelan on sound. Junior Cassie Rector serves as head of stage crew. Laurel McGraw and Gaye Miller volunteered with set design/construction and costumes.
“Time management becomes an essential priority, as students juggle their school responsibilities with their many other commitments,” Ellenburg said. “As they learn to speak and move in character with confidence on stage, our company of players tell a compelling story. This is what live theatre is all about.”
“The Outsiders” opens this weekend in the Island School Main Hall, running tonight and Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 4 p.m. Tickets are $6 in advance from cast members and the Island School office, or $8 at the door. The play is recommended for ages 12 and up.