A tale of love: PRC Blue Maskers Troupe perform “Lady White Snake”
“The future of our nation depends on our ability to create-and to be creative. During the coming decades our most important national resources will be human resources. If our nation is to continue to meet the challenges of the future, today’s schools need to develop creative leaders.”
– From “Performing together: The Arts and Education, jointly published by The American Association of School Administrators, The Alliance for Education and The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts” in 1985.
The theater students in the Pearl River Central High School Blue Maskers Troupe recently got creative during their research and performance of an adaptation of the ancient Chinese folktale “Lady White Snake.”
The troupe recently collaborated with Picayune Memorial High School’s High Tide Productions to perform their one act plays for members of the community.
The Blue Maskers Troupe competed in December at the Mississippi Theater Association High School Festival held at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg along with Picayune. Both schools placed in the top four.
This weekend the troupe will be performing at the statewide theater festival at the Gertrude C. Ford Center at the University of Mississippi in Oxford, theater director Ginger Schmidt. If the troupe places in the top two, they will advance to the Southeastern Theater Conference.
“Lady White Snake” was adapted from an ancient Chinese folktale about two spirits, white snake and green snake, who take human form. White snake falls in love and makes a life with Hsu Chen. However, the road to true love is never easy as audience members learn.
Brittany Bigott is a freshman at PRC and also an aspiring actor who attended last Friday’s performance of “Lady White Snake”.
“The makeup was really cool and I enjoyed the performances,” Bigott said. “I got tears in my eyes when the man passed away. I was really impressed with the way the actors stayed in character. It’s hard to stand still for a long time and watching them helps me.”
Ayssa Fuller is a senior at PRC and she came to watch her twin sister perform that evening.
“My favorite parts included the monk and I thought the storytellers did very well,” Fuller said. “The storytellers are my favorite part and the boy who wrote the play’s musical score is also my drum captain in band. The singers in the play added that extra element to the performance. The troupe is led by a great director.”
The style of the play is a mixture of Japanese Kabuki and Noh theater, Schmidt said.
“This opera has been translated into many languages and I felt it was important for my students to learn how different the two Japanese styles are from western theater,” Schmidt said.
Senior Allison Fuller has been a theater student for the past five years and portrayed one of the storytellers.
“I think it’s refreshing to be with a bunch of people who not only love acting as much as I do, but also creating something beautiful,” Fuller said. “State competitions are fun and I enjoy attending workshops and performing individual events.”
Destiny O’Briant is a senior and a five-year veteran of the stage. She said it’s exciting being on the stage.
“Performing gives you confidence,” O’Briant said. “I love the fact that this play is a traditional folktale and we are able to share this fairytale with our audiences. I want our audience to know that there are all types of theater out there, not just western.”
Senior Mariah Bellais is the stage manager for the right wing of the stage and is in charge of moving props, making sure actors have the right props, running through lines with actors and taking care of any and everything that may need fixing.
“This was my first year and I wanted to join theater because I know the people and they are fun and spontaneous,” Bellais said.
Isabelle Smith is a senior and manages stage right. For the past two years, Smith acted on stage, but chose to be stage manager this year.
“It’s fun and there’s always someone who needs something,” Smith said. “It’s always busy and never boring. I think it’s beautiful to be able to tell a story and bring things to life that people only imagine about.”
Hanna Kellar is a senior this year and played the part of one of the dancers. She not only performed in “Lady White Snake,” but also choreographed all of the dance numbers.
“I’ve been a CenterStage dancer for the past 11 years,” Kellar said. “This was my first time choreographing for the theater and it was a little stressful because I had to teach myself a different style of dance, as well as teaching everyone else.”
Dallen O’Briant is a junior and composed the entire score for “Lady White Snake,” which earned him a special award at December’s competition. He also played the instruments, which included piano, violin and percussion.
O’Briant has been involved with show choir and is the drum captain for the high school band.
“This was my first time writing a score and it felt great,” O’Briant said. “I studied music theory and used traditional Asian music techniques. I want the audience to feel a vast array of emotions as they listen to my score and feel bad for the characters.”
O’Briant has plans to apply to The Juilliard School in New York next year.
Schmidt said her students have worked hard this year.
“They have really impressed me with their dedication,” Schmidt said. “They have humbled me in a way that I can’t even begin to express. I’m grateful that I gave them this story. They took ownership of it. It’s all about what they bring to the picture.”
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