It’s presidential campaign season, and the thespians at La Salle-Peru Township High School are caught up in presidential history.
Beginning next week, the students are performing “44 Plays for 44 Presidents,” a two-hour play consisting of a series of short biographical scenes on each U.S. president.
“It’s real fast transitions,” said senior Andrew Paden of Peru, snapping his fingers to emphasize the pace of the show.
Director Rob Clydesdale said staging the play is easier than it might seem. Since there are so many scene changes, they keep the sets and costumes simple to allow the performers to easily shift roles.
The collection of scenes ranges from dramatic to comedic and a few points in between.
“Some are just weird,” Paden said.
The stories show the presidents in a new light for the students, Paden said.
“It’s telling me we haven’t had a lot of good presidents,” said senior Noah Gillespie of Tonica.
The L-P drama students are not alone in performing “44 Plays…” this year.
At least 43 other high school, college and community theater groups are staging the show around the country as part of the Plays for Presidents Festival 2012.
“This experiment is a way of uniting the theater community around something specific,” said Andy Batiates, festival co-chairman and co-writer of the play, in a press release. “It puts high school drama kids side-by-side, virtually speaking, with professional theatre companies, providing them with an experience that immerses them in their country’s history.”
Each of the groups performing the play this year also recorded one scene on video, which later will be edited into one long video. The L-P students were tasked with recording their performance of the Thomas Jefferson scene, in which Benjamin Franklin roasts Jefferson.
“We’ve been in contact with the actual writer, which is very unique for a play,” Clydesdale said.
The full cast includes Cassie Turczyn, Abbi Colby, Morgan Emigholz, Abby O’Malley, Matt Nowakowski, Riane Wrobleski and Sadie Smith.
IF YOU GO:
Show times are 7 p.m. Nov. 2-3 in Matthiessen Auditorium. Doors open at 6:30 and all seats are general admission. Tickets cost $7 for adults and $5 for students and seniors. Tickets can be purchased at the door either night.
Matthew Baker can be reached at (815) 220-6933, or email@example.com.