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On Friday May 24th, seven Stevenson students put on a production of Georges Feydau’s Caught with His Trance Down at the Kraine Theater in the East Village. The play, a French farce about the power of hypnotism from 1891, drew rave reviews from those in attendance. The play’s versatile ensemble featured Bonnie, Max, Flora Grace, Jamie, Lynn, Violet and Leni. Directed by Stevenson Theatre teacher Jaclyn Silvestri, students rehearsed during their Creative Expressions class, lunch periods, student prep, and on Saturday mornings before spending a week on site to bring the performance to life.
This performance marked graduating senior and Valedictorian Bonnie’s third and final performance at Stevenson. Bonnie was part of Stevenson’s first ever performance of a play in 2017, Anton Checkhov’s A Marriage Proposal, and she has been studying theater and performance at Stevenson ever since.
Bonnie reflected on her time in Stevenson’s performing arts by saying, “Working in Jackie’s theater classes have been some of my best experiences in my three years here at Stevenson. I did not come to this school with an interest in theater; I had never perceived myself as an actress or a drama enthusiast. Stevenson changed all of that for me… As someone interested in literature, the fascinating scripts that Jackie introduced me to were what sparked my interest in theater. I became open to the prospect of performing, and I was delightfully surprised to learn that I loved it. I’ve never felt judged for my technical skill when acting in Stevenson’s theater classes, only pushed to express myself and have fun doing so.”
In addition to Caught with His Trance Down, Silvestri’s second Creative Expressions class staged a performance of Oedi, by Rich Orloff, a satirical take on Oedipus Rex by Sophocles, which the class had read earlier in the quarter. The students’ final performance for Faculty and Staff took place on June 11th at Stevenson during Finals week. Oedi starred Leni as Tiriseus, Ashlee as Creon, Hailey as Oedipus, and Frankie as Jocasta.
In addition to the Creative Expressions classes, which both prepared performances, students also were able to study Improv and Shakespeare as performing arts offerings.
Alana, a graduating senior who has participated in both staged productions and improvised performances at Stevenson, had a fantastic year in Improv. In addition to participating in several workshops with visiting artists, Alana was able to jump on stage and perform improv with her peers and adults at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre this spring. She reflects on her time in Improv this year by saying, “In Jackie’s class I feel more comfortable with my classmates than any other class. This is because I’m free to be myself and I’m able to see my friends be themselves.”
This is the third year Stevenson performing arts have celebrated staged performances around New York City, building upon last year’s performance of Eugene Ionesco’s The Bald Soprano. So many graduating seniors have left their mark on Stevenson’s evolving performing arts opportunities and offerings, and they’re confident the program will only continue to expand. In mentioning how important the study and practice of Theatre has become, Bonnie said, “they’ve taught me a variety of social skills that I’ve made use of outside of class. The Performing Arts at Stevenson have become a tight-knit community that can trust each other during performances.”