Lakeland livens up classic lit

Published 10:15 pm Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Five Lakeland drama students are trying their hand at directing and taking on scenes from famous literature in the school’s final production for the year.

The drama club will present “Courtyard Literature” in the school’s inner courtyard Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 6 p.m.

Tickets are $4 for adults and $2 for students. Audience members should bring chairs or blankets, as seating will not be provided.

Email newsletter signup

For the production, the student-directors each chose a piece of famous writing to bring to life. The five students — Ian Cross, Amanda Sowerby, Molly Blake, Torrey Chapman and Caitlin Weis — selected a wide variety of writings from everyone from Dr. Seuss to Edgar Allan Poe.

Drama teacher Sara Sims said she has enjoyed witnessing the students’ transition from actors into directors during the past four weeks.

“It’s been really fun watching them improve,” she said. “It’s amazing to see what’s been fixed in the process.”

The student-directors had to take care of everything in the production, including adapting the literature into scripts, choosing their casts and arranging makeup and costumes.

“This is the (show) where I feel kind of free,” Sims said, adding she takes a back seat by only offering occasional advice during rehearsals.

This is the second year Lakeland has done a student-directed production, but it has been a much smoother process this time around, Sims said.

Last year, the students did famous Shakespeare scenes, which created problems for the actors in learning their lines. But more than that, the student-directors decided to act in each other’s pieces, and it made for chaos.

This year, Sims chose a simpler theme of literature and told the students not to spread themselves too thin. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t challenges.

“It never fails — every single director will come to me and say, ‘I had no idea directing was this hard,’” Sims said.

Senior Ian Cross is directing Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart,” and in his second year as a student-director, he’s trying to learn from his mistakes.

“Now that I know what I’m doing, it’s so much easier,” he said.

For example, he has only four actors to have a more manageable cast than he had last year.

“Courtyard Literature” will be performed outside in an inner courtyard at Lakeland.

“It’s a beautiful spot that never gets used,” Sims said. “So we said, ‘Let’s go out and use it.’”

Because the courtyard is inside the school, she said, there will be signs in the hallways as well as people to lead attendees to the location. If it rains, the production will move inside.

Sims encourages audience members to bring picnic dinners to add to the park-like ambiance.

For more information, contact Lakeland High School at 925-5790.