Ecker Hill drama solves a ‘Murder’
The advanced drama class at Ecker Middle School is on the brink of solving a "Murder in the Knife Room," as written by playwright Jonathan Rand.
The students received invitations from a man named Mysterious Host to join him on the Ecker Hill stage May 5 and 6 to see if they can figure out who killed whom.
Of course, an audience of parents, grandparents, siblings and friends are requested to witness the action, which also features a lot of laughs, in the hour-long, one-act play, said Rebecca Webber who is the drama and choir teacher at Ecker Hill Middle School.
"It’s like an Agatha Christie story where a man invites people to an old house and the audience is introduced to them one by one throughout the performance," Webber said. "A funny thing about this play is the characters don’t have names like you and me. They have names like Mysterious Host and Brainless Model, which help the audience learn a little more about the characters. As we get to know these characters, we get to know their connection with the deceased."
The 17 students involved have been working on the play since January.
"The first half of the school year was focused on production training," Webber said. "The students learned how to apply makeup, create costumes and design the sets and lights. After the holidays, we started working on the show."
Although Webber is the production’s director, she gives most of the credit to the kids for their ambition and professionalism.
"Seriously, all I did was direct and they did everything else," she said. "They designed the costumes, the sets, the lighting and even programmed the sound, although I did help them when they got stuck.
Furthermore, the lighting designs and sound are being programmed into a computer.
"So all I have to do is sit back during the performances push buttons," she said. "It’s kind of nice for me because I just let them go. Really, the only problem we had was scheduling extra rehearsals."
Webber likes the fact that she is instrumental in her students’ development as performers and people.
"I’ve seen kids come audition for me for the first time that are very scared and feel so alone," she said. "These kids have never been on stage and don’t even know what stage right or stage left is, but by the time they leave this school, they have this confidence and this outer shine. I’ve had parents and grand parents tell me that if it wasn’t for theatre and having something for their children to do or someplace to go, they wouldn’t know what would have happened."
Webber also works with students who have theatre background and already have managers, she said.
"It’s fun to work with both types of kids," she said. "It’s a great feeling to see them progress within the two years I work with them and see them go on to Treasure Mountain and the high school and land lead roles in those schools’ productions."
All the students involved with "Murder in the Knife Room" had to get special permission to take the class, Webber said.
"They were able to take this class because they took other drama classes and fulfilled prerequisites," she said. "These are the kids who are innately ready for theatre. They’re giving up extra classes they could have taken to do this."
The Ecker Hill Middle School advanced drama class will present "Murder in the Knife Room," on Thursday and Friday, May 5 and 6, in the school auditorium, 2465 Kilby Road, at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $5 for adults, $4 students and $15 for a family of four or more at the door.
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