PRC Blue Maskers to put on two one-act plays

Published 10:57 pm Saturday, November 11, 2006

Pearl River Central’s Blue Maskers will display their talents in two one-act plays to be performed Thursday through Saturday in the auditorium at Pearl River Central Elementary School in McNeill.

One of the plays is another original work from the pen of Deborah Craig, the high school’s drama instructor.

“I have seen two plays based on Katrina, and they were both about New Orleans. I feel like what we went through in South Mississippi is story that needs to be told. After all, this was ground zero,” Craig said about her play entitled “A Slight Shift to the East.”

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She said that both Hattiesburg High School drama, “The Katrina Project,” that did so well in competition last year, and the Covington, La., high school play, “I Want To Go Home,” both dealt with the experiences of New Orleans and she particularly wanted to tell Mississippi’s experience.

Craig said she based her play on what she has been told by students at the school, many of whom relocated to Pearl River County as refugees from South Mississippi and South Louisiana. She said the high school grew from about 735 students to 1,000 almost overnight as a result of Hurricane Katrina.

The drama instructor is careful to point out that the stories her play tells are composites of stories she heard from many of the students, some of whom are part of the class and the Blue Maskers. She the fictional students telling the stories are from Gautier, Diamondhead and Poplarville.

Among the real-life stories she has heard in developing the play is the story of Brooklyn Fitzgerald, whose family evacuated from Chalmette, La., to Pearl River County and recently bought a home here. Their home in Chalmette was destroyed.

Another of her students with a story is Brooke Thomas, who was in the Mississippi School for the Arts in Brookhaven last year when Katrina struck. She had to return home where she has lived in a FEMA trailer that is still at least partially her home as her house is being repaired.

Drama student Melissa Moeller’s family’s dairy farm gave away milk for about a week until Moeller Road was cleared of debris so the milk truck could come down it to pick the loads of milk from the farm.

Craig, who lives in Hide-A-Way Lake, has a story of her own to tell. While a porch on the home was demolished by a tree, the home was livable after the storm and she had 11 relatives living with her family.

“I cooked for 16 people for two weeks on back on a large propane grill,” she said.

The production itself, and the drama team, in a way are all refugees from Hurricane Katrina. The plays are being performed in McNeill because their facility on the high school campus in Carriere is still undergoing repairs.

In one scene from her play, two hurricane survivors meet at a fictional high school in Poplarville that is being used as a shelter.

There, one of the students is from Poplarville and the other is from Gautier. The Poplarville student is having to live with 16 relatives crammed into her home because of the storm. The student from Gautier is having to deal with the trauma of a roof-top rescue and separation from other family members, including his mother who has gone to Memphis.

The play ends with a rendition “Stand Back Up,” a Sugarland song dedicated to Mississippi hurricane victims in the duo’s appearance on Good Morning America on Aug. 30, 2005, the day after the storm. Special effects audio clips were recorded by special arrangement with WLOX and MS-NBC.

“A Slight Shift to the East” is the play the drama team will use in competition for the Mississippi Thespian Conference.

The second one-act play the drama team is performing in McNeill and in competition is “The Ugly Duckling,” by A.A. Milne of Winnie the Pooh fame, and will be used in the Mississippi Theatre Assoc. competition.

The play is a British comedy on manners and deals with what constitutes real beauty.

In it, a prince and a princess, neither of who is considered particularly attractive by their families, are betrothed in an arranged marriage and then actually fall in love, each considering the other very attractive.

This week, the plays will be performed at the McNeill auditorium at 7 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and at 1 p.m. matinee on Saturday.

For some of the characters in the various productions this weekend will be played by different students.

In a “Slight Shift to the East,” Angela is played by Mystik Boone; Ashley by Krystal Hernandez; Bonnie by Brooklyn Fitzgerald; Chad by Damian Ragas; Chelsea by Chelsey Maywalt and Serresa Forest; Jesse by Justin Kellar and Chris Pfalzgraf; Kyla by Amanda Troescher and Danielle Moore; Rachel by Brittany Husson; Renee by Brooke Thomas and Dana Weems; Robbie by Dustin Martinez; Sarah by Brigitte Martin and Melissa Moeller and Susan Meredith by Kellsey Copling.

Production staff includes: Craig; production assistant is Yvette Burrows of the parent booster club; Caleb Kirkland, stage manager; lighting technicians, Kristin Miller and Emily Alexander; sound technicians, Myka Trahan and Jordan Kellar; stage crew, Cory Clutter, Gavin Lossett, Caitlin Byrnes and Chaz Burrows; sound/special effects designer, Alex Craig, and program design, Chris King.

In “The Ugly Duckling,” the king is played by Caleb Kirkland; lord chancellor, Gavin Lossett; queen, Caitlin Byrnes and Emily Alexander; Princess Camilla, Sarah Smith and Myka Trahan; Dulcibella, Kristin Miller and Jordan Kellar; Carlo, Chaz Burrows.

Production staff are: director, Craig; production assistant, Burrows; stage manager, Brooke Thomas; lighting technicians, Chris Pfalzgraf and Krystal Hernandez; sound technicians, Dustin Martinez and Patrick Pfalzgraf; stage crew, Damien Ragas, Brittany Husson, Kellsey Copling, Justin Kellar, Amanda Troescher, Danielle Moore and Brooklyn Fitzgerald; set design/construction, students of the theatre production class, agricultural mechanics class, Jeanie Walker, Patrick Pfalzgraf and Justin Greene; program design, Chris King; costumes, Nancy Bryant of Stitch N’ Time; costume/make-up assistants, Chelsey Maywalt, Serresa Forest, Dana Weems, Brigitte Martin and Melissa Moeller; props, Mystik Boone.