|PHOTO | ASHLEY MAHONEY|
|John Harris, drama teacher at West Charlotte High School, leads a course on campus. Harris was hired for the 2018-19 school year, as part of the school’s commitment to providing students with the opportunity to pursue theater studies for the first time in over a decade.|
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The theater lives at West Charlotte High School.
Three years after the creation of a theater club and a school year away from their first musical in nearly two decades, financial constraints can no longer stifle the theatrical activities of the campus.
West Charlotte English Department Chairman Franchone Bey, one of three teachers to start the club, oversaw the musical “In the Heights” last school year. She was instrumental in the school’s participation in the Hamilton Education Program (EduHam), which offers students the opportunity to see ‘Hamilton’ on November 1 at the Belk Theater and compete with other schools across the country. title I for the chance to play in an original play. of their own creation before the show based on their EduHam studies in class.
“The spark was ignited with ‘In the Heights’, but it started long before,” said Bey, who is also the Drama Club advisor. “We have always been an artistic school. If you look upstairs in our tech booth, you will see the names of all the plays and musicals that have already been performed. There was a thriving performing arts community here at school.
“It’s just a matter of recharging the school and bringing it back. We have a new drama teacher on board, who performs a play in the fall and a musical in the spring. Hopefully all of this will get us back into the mix.
The addition to West Charlotte of drama teacher John Harris demonstrates the school’s commitment to providing students with the opportunity to further their careers in theater. This is their first acting class in over a decade.
“I’m in love with the theater, and whenever you can convince me that you are someone else just because you got on stage, it’s spellbinding,” said Harris, the son of drama teachers and alumnus of Morehouse College in Atlanta. . “I think it’s more difficult than learning an instrument. I think it’s more difficult than learning a trade. He becomes a whole different person. If you can get them, especially the people who know you and watch you say, “wow, I really thought you were someone else,” you did. ”
West Charlotte has two upcoming productions: Alan Ball’s “5 Women Wearing Same Dress” November 8-10 at 7:00 p.m. and November 11 at 3:00 p.m. in the West Charlotte Auditorium and Lin-Manuel’s “21 Chump Street” Miranda in the spring. Students like Vanessa Lucas, who plays Francess in the fall production, and junior Maurice Collins, who plays Tripp Davenport next month, also performed “In the Heights”.
“I’m excited to have so many lines, but I’m also a little nervous because it’s only the second time I’ve been doing this,” Lucas said.
Collins said, “It’s very different from the character I played before.”
Exploring various types of theater, such as musicals versus plays, presents different challenges in the trade.
“I don’t need to learn songs, and [last year] that was my main focus, ”said junior Kiahri Craig, an“ In the Heights ”veteran who plays Mindy in“ 5 Women Wearing the Same Dress ”. “Now I have to change just the words and the direct play, and focus on the actions rather than the music and the dance. ”
For others like freshmen Kaliyah Mcillwaine and La’Kena Williamson, who plays Meredith in the upcoming production, this is their first acting experience in high school.
“It’s exciting to see how we’re going to have to be that other person, how we’re going to have to change the way we act, how we move, how we operate, just to play this certain character, and just see how he changes us. ”Mcillwaine said.
Harris said, “You can see exactly how different and identical all these women are, and how different and identical all these women are to you. You have Trisha in you. You have a bit of Mindy in you. Vanessa can relate to Mindy.