Ancient Tale: PRC Blue Maskers prepare for show

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, November 11, 2015

practice makes perfect: Pearl River Central Blue Maskers rehearse for their upcoming performance of “Shakuntala and the Ring of Recollection.” Photo by Cassandra Favre

practice makes perfect: Pearl River Central Blue Maskers rehearse for their upcoming performance of “Shakuntala and the Ring of Recollection.”
Photo by Cassandra Favre

Pearl River Central High School’s Blue Maskers are learning ancient Indian traditions as they prepare for their joint production of A Night of One Acts with Picayune Memorial High School.
This year, under the direction of new drama director, Amber Mauldin, theater students will perform local author Deborah Craig’s adaptation of the ancient Indian tale “Shakuntala and the Ring of Recollection.”
As her students learn about a new culture, first-time teacher Mauldin is also getting the hang of her new job.
The Columbia, Mississippi native is a theater graduate of Jones County Community College and William Carey University.
Mauldin’s high school didn’t have a drama department instead they produced an annual musical, which she participated in.
“As soon as I set foot on stage, I knew I wanted to influence kids to love theater as much I have,” she said.
After college, she attended the Disney College Program in Orlando, Florida, where she auditioned for and was selected as the character Ariel for “The Little Mermaid” meet and greet attraction in the park. The movie holds a special place in Mauldin’s heart.
“I was the only redhead in my grade and I was bullied,” Mauldin said. “I would go home, watch “The Little Mermaid” and realize I was a princess. Then I could go back to school the next and face the bullying.”
After Disney, the MAC Cosmetics company hired her to work as a makeup artist in Hattiesburg. Makeup artistry was one of her passions during her participation in the American College Theater Festival at William Carey College. She was nominated twice for her hair and makeup and attended regional and then national competitions in Washington, D.C. During her first year at nationals, she worked with a MAC Pro Senior artist and the second year, she worked with the makeup artist for “Saturday Night Live.”
Mauldin said she loves special effects makeup, but her biggest passion is acting.
“Since I’m a redhead, I’m always cast as the comedic relief,” she said. “I love making people laugh. If Carol Burnett and Lucille Ball had a being that would be me.”
Mauldin heard about the job at PRC when an old friend contacted her. She was offered the position two before school started and picked up her life to make the move from Hattiesburg to Pearl River County.
“It all comes down to faith,” she said. “God has put me here for a reason. It’s been one of the hardest but most rewarding jobs I’ve ever had.”
“Shakuntala” is an ancient version of the classic “Cinderella” fairy tale, Mauldin said. Shakuntala’s mother is a divine goddess, but Shakuntala cannot enter the divine realm because she is half mortal. She is known for her beauty, falls in love and marries without her father’s blessing.
Shakuntala is cursed and must wear a ring so her love won’t forget her, Mauldin said.
Dane Crosby Sr., a third year Blue Masker, portrays Lord Parvatan, an elderly man near death.
Crosby practiced for his role by learning to walk with a walker and train himself to sense what it would be like to need support.
“I would love for the audience to feel a sense of wonderment because this is an ancient Indian tale,” Crosby said. “They can get a glimpse of a different culture.”
Fifth-year theater student Hayley Smith portrays Shakuntala’s mother Menaka, which is a role that brings Smith out of her comfort zone.
Menaka was instructed to seduce a man, Smith said. Smith has always portrayed a sweet and humbling mother figure, one that’s never been seen as a mistress.
“I’ve become much more of a feminist and listen to more encouraging things towards women now,” Smith said. “I love Ms. Mauldin. This has been one of the best years. I was voted homecoming queen and she did my hair and makeup. It was an honor for me. I see the play as a love story but it also teaches you that sometimes life doesn’t work out the way you thought it would and you have to be punished for the things you’ve done wrong.”
This year, senior Dallen O’Briant will perform dual roles. First, he wrote and will perform the play’s musical score, and he is also portraying Lord Indra.
For this play, O’Briant is using Indian instruments such as the sitar, a type of guitar and tabla, a type of drum. He wanted the score to be mystical and whimsical. His percussion synthesizer is also set to Indian music settings.
“It’s been interesting to play music and act at the same time,” O’Briant said. “I want the music to heighten the emotion and put the audience in the perspective of feeling for the characters. I want to draw out their emotions and put them in that ancient Indian mythical feeling.”
A Night of One Acts will be held on Nov. 17, 19 and 21 at 7 p.m. at the PMHS Auditorium on Goodyear Boulevard. The cost of an adult ticket is $8 and $5 for students and seniors.
“To have a new teacher, the students have adapted so well,” Mauldin said. “They are understanding and welcoming to me. They are working so hard in a short amount of time. They are amazing and this is the reason I came here.”

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