Closing the Double Doors

Senior Years In Drama Classes Prepared Them For Their Own Shows

Closing+the+Double+Doors

Lauren Brock and Hannah Taylor

The instrumentals of “The Office” theme song played over the JBL speakers in the Little Theatre. Senior Jane Sonnichsen gave her opening speech welcoming a packed to the brim audience, with no seats to spare, to her very own Frequent Friday. The clicks of business shoes were heard from the other side of a closed curtain as Sonnichsen’s cast prepared to perform the infamous episode, “Stress Relief.”

For drama students like Sonnichsen, three years of taking Drama, Actor’s Studio, Tech Theatre, Repertory Theatre and Advanced Repertory prepared her for this moment.

From learning the basics through acting exercises, to programming light boards in Tech classes, to directing a children show in Rep. class, the passion Sonnichsen had for theatre developed.  The spring of their junior year, 10 students who had the chance to enroll in Advanced Rep. chose their productions.

Sophomore year Sonnichsen took Drama, a first year theatre class. If she wanted to make it to Advanced Rep, two more classes were necessary to stay on track. Fellow senior Ava Sudermann stayed on the same timeline as Sonnichsen, but with their love for the program, three classes were never a burden.

Sonnichsen wanted to make her show an escape for the people who saw it. A half hour to forget about getting into their dream college, if they’re going to fail that Physics test and if they’re having family or relationship problems.“The Office” was a perfect fit.. By the time she had formatted her script the night before it was due, only a few tweaks were necessary to make it her ideal production. Two episodes of “Stress Relief” adapted into one half hour show.

As for Sudermann, her first idea for her production was to adapt Studio C Skits, a comedy channel on Youtube. Sudermann had been watching the channel for years. After picking four skits and formatting the transcriptions, the only thing left to do was casting the show.

In preparation for their shows, Sonnichsen and Sudermann used their knowledge of three years in theatre for their productions. 

From the control booth the student directors controlled every light board switch, sound cue and movement of the show. Learning how to master these skills was the most useful aspect of preparation.

Every student director uses their personal experience to make their products stand out.

“You learn how to act and get a little taste of directing in theatre.” Sonnichsen said. “It’s just all building up, [our] vision and what [we’ve] been through really makes it unique.” 

Past knowledge wasn’t the only thing that helped their production have a successful outcome. Sudermann relied on others in the Advanced Rep. class to give her critiques. During one rehearsal, the nine students went to observe her show after school. When the performance was over, they gave Sudermann and her cast their inputs on blocking, lighting and acting. 

“It was really helpful because there were a lot of scenes where I knew something was  missing, but I didn’t know what,” Sudermann said. “They came in and told me exactly what was missing.” 

Sonnichsen had a similar approach to improving the overall flow to her show. After rehearsals, she announced over the loudspeaker that she was about to give critiques to the cast. She told her cast to over exaggerate motions, and use more facial expressions with every line

Sudermann and Sonnichsen were no longer the sophomores enrolled in Drama learning the basics of theatre. They had worked towards their final production for three years.

“I wanted to build my knowledge, build my acting experience and make friends,” Sonnichsen said. “Frequent Friday is just the cherry on top to a really great experience.”

With each class, rehearsal and cast member, the seniors were ready to close the double doors to the Little Theatre and finish their biggest project yet.