Last night, I watched my son perform in the high-school play for his home-school umbrella school (Alternative Family Education). The parents’ club hires West Performing Arts to organize the school plays (they had three—elementary, middle, and high school) and provide the performance space (West End Studio Theatre).
The high school production this year consisted of 8 one-act plays, seven of which were from David Ives’ collection All in the Timing,hence the name “Mostly in the Timing”. The one exception was a sketch from the Carol Burnett Show (episode 10.6 in 1976, of two people in an elevator with one-word lines).
I had not seen any of the plays before—I’d not even run lines with my son for this production, so it was all new to me. I enjoyed all the plays, though “Degas, C’est Moi” needed some more rehearsal, particularly for the stage crew. I can see why these pieces by Ives are so popular for high schools and colleges—they are funny, well-written, and fairly easy to stage, relying on the lines and the acting, rather than on sets, costumes, or props for the entertainment.
“Variations on the Death of Trotsky” Leon Trotsky with axe smashed into his skull.
My son was in five of the eight one-acts, with one of them being a last-minute casting after another student dropped out of the production. He had the role of Frank Mikula, a construction worker in “Mere Mortals”; Horace, the male mayfly in “Time Flies”; Leon Trotsky in “Variations on the Death of Trotsky”; Collin in “Elevator”, and Pedestrian and Unemployment Worker in “Degas, C’est Moi”. This required some quick changes of costumes and some radically different body language for the different parts.
They had 11 actors and 3 directors (for a total of 13 students, as one director also acted) for a total of 38 roles. My son ended up with the most roles and the most lines, probably as a result of stepping in at the last minute for the role of Frank Mikula.
My wife made the ax-in-the-head costume piece for Leon Trotsky. They debated for a while whether to shape it like the mountain-climbers’ ice axe that the script calls for, or a more iconic wood-chopping hatchet (which seems to be the more popular choice for staging the play, based on Google image searches). They went with the hatchet. It was constructed out of old padded envelopes, cardboard, and duct tape, sewn to a wig. It ended up looking pretty good, and it did not flop over (which is what my wife was most concerned about).
Victoria and Collin in the elevator
Frank Mikula (left) and Charlie Petrossian (right) eating lunch 50 stories up.
Mayflies Horace and May, discovering that they’re on television.
They have another run this afternoon, and I look forward to seeing it again.