Theatre students present Thanksgiving in April | ParkRecord.com

Theatre students present Thanksgiving in April

Alisha Self, Of the Record staff

There’s one thing that the students in Rebecca Webber’s advanced seventh-grade theater class at Ecker Hill International Middle School want you to know about their upcoming production: It’s not as lame as it sounds.

When Webber announced the name of the production she chose as the culminating project for the class "Pilgrim’s Progression" many of the students joined in a chorus of dubious groans.

Once they read the script, though, they realized that the performance is far funnier than it sounds.

"It’s basically how Thanksgiving has progressed from when it first started to what it’s like today," explains class member Sierra Deimling. "It sounds super lame but it’s really funny."

"It’s not what you’d expect," adds classmate Austin Wolfe. "It surprises you."

The students in Webber’s advanced class started their theater education in the sixth-grade prerequisite class. They’ve spent the entire first semester studying aspects of theater including lighting, sound, sets, props, colors and costumes and practicing audition skills and monologues.

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Now they’re ready to put what they’ve learned to the test. "Pilgrim’s Progression" will be performed, costumed, directed, and managed entirely by the students. Webber’s involvement is limited to casting and directing.

Each student has one or more parts in the production. In addition, everyone in the class was assigned to a committee: set and props, costumes, light and sound, or publicity. As the production nears, the time commitment has extended beyond class, with after-school homework assignments and before-school rehearsals.

The publicity committee made up of Deimling, Wolfe, Rachel Frain, Reese Pearson and Paisley Bothe shared their thoughts with The Park Record in an interview last week.

The play is a medley of 12 Thanksgiving parody scenes, starting with the first Thanksgiving and culminating with a modern get-together. According to Frain, the scenes have nothing to do with each other in the beginning but start to intertwine later on, and by the end they all come together in one big Thanksgiving dinner.

"I like it because it’s funny," she says.

The main characters are Delores, played by Emma Fox, and Martin, played by Kyle Moran, who are traveling to Delores’ mother’s house for Thanksgiving.

"It should be named ‘Messed Up Thanksgiving: Then and Now,’" says Deimling.

The script contains adult humor as well as kid-friendly material. "It’s definitely something everyone can relate to," Deimling adds.

The group members agree that they are grateful for the opportunity to pull the whole production off themselves.

"It’s a lot of responsibility, but it’s fun," says Bothe.

"It’s cool that [Mrs. Webber] lets us learn things on our own instead of just telling us," says Wolfe.

Challenges the students have encountered include learning how to work together, memorizing lines, and accepting that big roles are not necessarily better roles. Webber continually tells her students, "There are no small parts, just small actors."

"Pilgrim’s Progression" will be performed Thursday, Friday and Saturday, April 22-24, at 6:30 p.m. in the Ecker Hill auditorium. Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for students and may be purchased at the door.