Photos courtesy of Eric St. John.
Dorante meets Clarice and Lucrece Tuileries in Paris and decides to court Clarice, mistakenly confusing her name with that of her friend.
As the cast of Spain Park High School’s The Liar sat at Johnny Rockets, pumped after a successful performance at the district one-act competition, they found themselves mulling over some possibilities.
The Liar was chosen to move on to the state level, but student director Cecelia Crick said the cast wasn’t sure if they wanted to participate in the Southeastern Theatre Conference (SETC).
“I was sitting in a booth next to our lead [actor], Conor [Mahoney],” Crick said. “We were eating, and halfway through he leans over and goes, ‘We’re going to SETC.’ That was a great moment.”
As it would happen, the actor was also correct. Spain Park’s show won the state level, and the crew will be performing their one-act at the regional level on March 6, along with schools from nine other states. The competition will consist of 20 plays over a two-day period.
Spain Park is no stranger to winning at state. Theatre director Eric St. John said that in Spain Park’s 15 years of existence, it has won the state competition seven times. This year, in addition to winning best in show, five cast members were named to the all-star cast. Spain Park had more cast members named than any other show. In the individual events, five students took first place and one took third.
The Liar was originally a 17th century French farce, or a comic dramatic work that uses buffoonery and typically crude characterization and improbable situations, written by Pierre Corneille. American playwright David Ives created a modern adaptation of the play, which was written in iambic pentameter to match the style of Shakespeare’s plays.
“It’s really fun. It’s easy to understand,” Crick said. “The little things in the show that you catch are so funny because every line has something to it. There’s no filler space, I love that.”
The show is usually a two-act play with the first act running more than 50 minutes, but the rules of the one-act competition allot only 45 minutes for the show. Six days after Spain Park Theatre’s final performance of the show on Oct. 26, they shortened it for the district competition.
“They had a busy week,” St. John said. “They had a really fun show at the district competition, and then we were afforded the chance to polish it even more for the state competition.”
The Liar’s success was especially fulfilling to student-director and senior Crick. It was her first stab at directing, and she said it felt amazing that “her baby” came in first. St. John was there to help her with blocking and any questions she had, but he said Crick really developed her own ideas about how the show should look and feel.
Crick’s role is telling of the way St. John runs the theater program. He puts the students in charge of everything, including costumes, stage management and directing, and he supervises or offers advice when it’s needed.
“I think it’s just amazing starting from people not really knowing what their character is to getting first place at state,” Crick said. “It’s interesting because some of these people that I’m working with have been in shows most of their high school career, and this is my first stab at working with them. They have what they are used to with how the rehearsal process goes.”
Now the students’ challenge is moving on to the regional competition in March while also preparing for the school’s February show, Dark of the Moon, which Crick is also directing. It will open Wednesday, Feb. 25, and will run through Feb. 28. Soon after Dark of the Moon ends, they will perform The Liar one last time at Spain Park before SETC on March 3 at 7 p.m.
The pressure of SETC isn’t as bad as the previous competitions, according to St. John and Crick.
“I love SETC because it is much more laid back,” Crick said. “I think at district and at state we are more worried about winning stuff because that’s always really fun, but at SETC it’s about putting on a good show. It’s not about winning.”
Dark of the Moon
Spain Park High School
Feb. 25-28, 7:30 p.m.
*May not be suitable for kids under 8
Spain Park High School
March 3, 7 p.m.