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An Engaging Theater Experience
Rachelle Garbarine

For its first production of the season, Gibbons Drama is presenting Almost, Maine which comprises nine vignettes that whimsically explore the joys and perils of love in a mythical town. But cast members will tell you that by the end of their rehearsal schedule and after performing the play for the first of its two-week run, there is yet another story to tell.

Student actors in Almost Maine

That additional story is about theater as engagement. The play is an ideal vehicle for engagement given the large size and breadth of its casting needs, and its inventive approach to such a personal subject ..., said Gibbons Drama Artistic Director Kevin Ferguson. 

Part of the actual magic of theater--regardless of form -- is it’s near constant creation of sincere community.             Gibbons Drama Artistic Director Kevin Ferguson 

Elaborating on the theme, he continued: “Part of the actual magic of theater -- regardless of form -- is it’s near constant creation of sincere community.  Sometimes this is instantaneous, as when the lights go down and an audience and a group of actors instantly engage.... Sometimes it’s the more deliberate and gradual process of watching a team of actors, directors, and production personnel bond into a community ensemble of players.  Either way—community like this isn’t successful without committed engagement.” 

Students involved with the play agree. Jack Pendergrass ’19 and Keeland Covell ’21, as well as tech theater student Anna Helms ’21 share what they have learned about engagement:

Q: How is theater engagement?

A: Keeland (Ginette in the play) - To make a good show a great show, you must be engaged with the audience and your scene partner, as well as people outside of the show, and recognize that theater is not all about you.

A: Jack (Phil in the play) - Theater provides opportunities for us to share our gifts and talents with other groups in the school and for them to attend and support what we do, as well as to collaborate with us. An example is our current partnership with the strings department. (The play features student violinists providing originally composed background music.)

Tech student for Almost Maine

A: Anna (Technical Director) - People who work backstage have diverse interests and come from different areas of Gibbons. But working in such a small space everyone gets to know one another well, and we all engage to help put on a great show.  

 Q: What have you learned about engagement?

A: Keeland - Though the show comprises many separate scenes, I have learned that engagement is what connects everyone. All the actors, tech crew, and everyone else cares about the show and about each other.

Student violinist participating in  Almost Maine

A: Jack - Everyone involved is willing and ready not only to be involved but also to be excited about and love what they are doing. It takes commitment to do this show and everyone is locked and focused.

A: Anna - When we all engage with one another and work together we are able, not only to put on a fantastic production, but also to help make the drama program the best that it can be.

Almost Maine, directed by Drama Educator Emily Sartori ’11, will be performed in the Studio Theater on Oct. 4 and 6 at 7:30 PM and on Oct. 7 at 2:30 PM.

* Tickets may also be purchased at the door for all performances. Please contact Kevin Ferguson at kferguson@cghsnc.org for more information.