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Congrats to our AHS dance team crowned STATE CHAMPS in medium jazz! BLOOM theatre performs Fri. Feb 25 and Sat. Feb 26 at 7 p.m. Summer Camp registration has launched! Go to ACADEMICS to save your spot!

Rose Theatre Reflections Blog

Making the Impossible Possible

 

Colleen Koch Murphy ’95, RTC Audience Relations Coordinator and English Teacher

 

     BLOOM Theatre Project, Assumption’s outreach theatre program for Mission Week, charges young writers with some astounding tasks: Introduce characters, develop a conflict, take your audience on a journey, and touch some hearts along the way. Oh, and by the way, you only have 10 minutes.

     Mission Week? Sounds more like mission impossible. But the Rose Theatre Company continues to rise to the occasion with the help of our very own staff of superheroes. Betsy Huggins of Actors Theatre has served as an artist in residence for the past two years, guiding students through the sometimes grueling process of writing a 10-minute play. The plays are then entered into Actors Theatre’s New Voices competition, where several, including plays by Kay Nilest ’16, Hannah Rose Marks ’16, and Kristen Bell ’17, have received recognition in years past.

     Back home, Doug Sumey, BLOOM’s program director, leads the charge in selecting and producing plays for a schoolwide audience during Mission Week, with a small selection going out on tour at local schools. This year the tour includes our neighbors at St. Raphael, Highland Middle School, Home of the Innocents, and Kentucky School for the Blind. A larger array of plays is then presented on the weekend at Assumption – all on a shoestring budget which keeps the program free to the public. Yes, I said free.

But wait, there’s more! The plays themselves are not directed by Mr. Sumey, but by the students themselves. Students apply to work as directors and write director’s statements, then plan and lead rehearsals.

     It sounds like an impossible task, but it’s shaping up to be a wonderful show. This year’s theme is compassion, and the lineup includes everything from a father-daughter conflict to banter between friends to a conflict between office workers to a play about soap. The student writing raises powerful questions, such as: When does someone deserve a second chance? Is it possible to turn one’s dreams into reality? And what does it mean to face the truth? Deep thoughts, but if you’re worried that this is going to be a heavy night, don’t. The plays have enough levity to keep you chuckling alongside the characters, even as they face their darkest moments.

 

Show Details

    I see you. I am here. will be staged on Friday, February 24, and Saturday, February 25, at 7:00 p.m. In addition, six other student-written plays will be performed by the Acting II class as staged readings on Saturday, February 25, and Sunday, February 26, at 2:00 p.m. Our company invites you to attend FREE of charge. Simply reserve your seats at www.showtix4u.com If you or anyone in your party requires assistance or handicap accessibility, please contact Colleen Murphy colleen.murphy@ahsrockets.org.

 

The View from the Board Room

Technical theatre offers real-life learning

 

Colleen Koch Murphy ’95, RTC Audience Relations Coordinator and English Teacher

 

    Chairs swivel around the conference table. Committee members file in and greet one another with cheerful conversation. Some of them begin unpacking sandwiches. Everyone has ordered from the same deli. The meeting is called to order, and each member reports in turn – on their progress for the week, goals, and areas of concern. Jobs are delegated. Decisions are made. Action steps have been defined.

     The gathering takes place at Assumption High School, but this is not a meeting of the Board of Directors, or Academic Counsel, or the Administrative Team. This is a production heads meeting for Rose Theatre Company. A quick glance reveals that the figures around the table are mostly 17-year-old women. I won’t call them girls in this setting. They handle leadership roles and power tools with equal finesse. These are women. The man in the room – Doug Sumey – spends most of his time asking questions. His title is director, but for now, at least, the students are calling the shots.

     I am the new face at the table. I am an English teacher with a background in theatre, and I’ll be helping with ticket sales and publicity this year. I know most of these students from my classroom, but I haven’t seen them like this before.

     Some of them have put together PowerPoints and design sketches. Others talk about their plans for communicating safety procedures with the new company members. A team is putting together a company outing, coordinating a schedule and rides to the venue.

     The Stage Manager has researched a new communication system, and Mr. Sumey is following her lead. If I need information from the cast and crew, it is most effective to go through this student. All 129 company members answer to her.

      It is a far cry from my high school theatre experience. Some things remain the same – the hugs, the bonding, the tendency to spontaneously burst into song. But these students are gaining valuable life experiences I never dreamed possible. As a student at Assumption in the 1990s, I performed in the room which is now the theatre when it was still a gym with folding chairs squeaking in the audience. We had to recruit heavily to field a sufficient technical crew. We bought our costumes at Good Will. There were no design sketches or inspiration boards. Any sewing was done by parents – not by the costume crew, as it’s done now.

      Assumption has made some smart investments. Building the Humana Foundation Performing and Fine Arts Center in 2005 has provided important improvements in the equipment available for student use (in addition to offering a more comfortable audience experience). Hiring Mr. Sumey in 2009 was another step in the right direction. With his experience in educational theatre and his dedication to the program, his contributions have been invaluable. But let’s give credit where credit is due. The most important contributors to this program are the students. Each group stands upon the shoulders of the last, and there is an awareness that they are building something bigger than themselves.

      At the production meeting, Mr. Sumey talks about the vision for the show – a sentiment which he will share again when the whole company gathers together for an opening meeting. It is a show about the love performers have for their art and the sacrifices we make to be a part of the magic on stage. But the magic that goes on backstage? That’s every bit as wonderful.

 

Show Details

      Rose Theatre presents A Chorus Line. Evening performances at 7:00 p.m. will take place on November 4,5,10,11, and 12, while 2:00 p.m. afternoon performances will take place on November 6 and 13. Tickets are $14.00 for adults and $9 for students and seniors. The play contains mature subject matter and is recommended for grades 8 and up. Please contact Colleen Murphy (colleen.murphy@ahsrockets.org) if you require assistance with seating or with using stairs or a wheelchair. Tickets can be purchased in advance online through this link: https://www.showtix4u.com/boxoffice.php . Be sure to use Google Chrome when accessing the online ticketing site. 

 

What I Did for Love

A teacher reflects on A Chorus Line

 

Colleen Koch Murphy ’95, RTC Audience Relations Coordinator and English Teacher

One of the climactic moments in A Chorus Line is the musical ballad, “What I Did for Love.” The song about a relationship gone bad turns out to be an appropriate metaphor for the art of theatre. I’m an English teacher, so metaphors are kind of my thing. Let me explain.

If you’ve never seen A Chorus Line, well good. I saw it in Iroquois Park in the 1990s, which was probably the last time it was performed in Louisville. Then, I went to Blockbuster Video (back when those were on every corner) and rented the movie. Both were entertaining, filled with delightful dance steps and catchy musical numbers, but neither time did I “get it.” Let me assure you that the students in Assumption High School’s Rose Theatre Company “get it.”

            Before auditioning, several of the students researched the play and found out that it is based on the lives of real people working in New York in the 1970s. In 1974, Michael Bennett interviewed a group of performers and had the idea to turn their life stories into a show. These students are dedicated to treating those stories with the integrity that real people deserve.

            Each of the characters has dealt with some form of sexism, racism, homophobia, rejection, abuse, or self-doubt in order to get to Broadway. And that’s the thing. Being a performer is risky. It means putting yourself out there and taking a risk for something you love.

            For me, the sacrifices have been pretty minor. I’ve worked with high school theatre programs on and off for the past 15 years, and I was starting to miss it. Last year, I made the decision to give up some time with my family on Monday nights to be a part of this process as the new audience relations manager. For others, the cost of working in theatre is more significant – they sacrifice better paying jobs and open themselves to criticism because this art form has a certain draw.

            Our high school students put on a brave face, but taking a risk and going out for the school play (or the basketball team, or class officer, or more difficult course work) involves personal sacrifice. Often, it brings up baggage from the past, and they have to work through those things in order to live up to their potential. And that doesn’t even mean that they’ll necessarily be a star – I’m just talking about participating here. Life hurts sometimes. It’s an important lesson for high school students. Sometimes we laugh about it, sometimes we cry – but we pick ourselves up and dust ourselves off and go on with the show. That’s the metaphor I didn’t get when I was 19. That’s the lesson A Chorus Line has to offer.

 

Show Details

            Evening performances at 7:00 p.m. will take place on November 4,5,10,11, and 12, while 2:00 p.m. afternoon performances will take place on November 6 and 13. Tickets are $14.00 for adults and $9 for students and seniors. The play contains mature subject matter and is recommended for grades 8 and up. Please contact Colleen Murphy (colleen.murphy@ahsrockets.org) if you require assistance with seating without using stairs or a wheelchair.  Tickets can be purchased in advance online through this link: https://www.showtix4u.com/boxoffice.php .  Be sure to use Google Chrome when accessing the online ticketing site.