Verba Volant, Scripta Manent

The Hill News

Verba Volant, Scripta Manent

The Hill News

Verba Volant, Scripta Manent

The Hill News

First student-led headline production takes the spotlight

Media: Liliann Zvarick ’26
Meredith Marks ’24 directs her peers in “Clue,” a student-led play. This fall production will be the first student-driven headline show in the school’s history.

For the first time, Hill’s fall term theater production is entirely student-led.

At the end of the 2022-2023 school year, it was announced that the fall production would be Clue and would be directed by 6th former Meredith Marks ’24.

This is the first time in recent years at Hill that a student-led theater production is taking place during one of the three seasons, rather than during H-term. Compared to student-led productions during H-term, this change meant that students who participated would have to take extra time out of an already busy academic and co-curricular schedule to work on the show.

This year’s change to the programming appears to have already had a positive impact on the cast and crew.

“They were brought back two years ago,” Araiya Casriel ’24 said about the student-led plays. “Those shows were separate, and not in the main season. Although that worked great for them, it was perhaps more stressful for the people involved. Having this be one of the main shows this year has really eased that burden.”

However, for Joy Booth-Genthe ’24, a cast member of Clue and a two-year member of Ellis Theatre Guild, felt a familiar strain when compared to other productions on which she worked.

“I would say it’s about the same weight as if I were just doing one show,” Booth-Genthe ’24 said. “There’s a lot of pressure put on us, with memorizing our lines and stuff, but I feel like it doesn’t add too much. It’s just what you get by doing theater.” Booth-Genthe, however, found it easier to work with her peers when learning the strict stage directions.

“I would say there are times where I’ll mess us up during rehearsal and I’ll be scared that it will be held against me, but it never is,” Booth-Genthe said. “What happens in the theater kind of stays in the theater. It’s kind of like our problems are put on pause during the show because Meredith needs to make sure we’re respecting her as a director and not seeing her as our friend so that she can actually do her job as a director.”

Booth-Genthe also mentioned how she preferred overall student-led productions outside of the main show season.

“I did the student-led musical last year, and I felt like I had more freedom and flexibility in that, whereas now it took the spot of one of the main shows,” she said. “It feels like we have to get this done, and now it feels more structured. Outside of the season, it’s more of a chill place.”

This year, the theater department underwent a change in faculty, introducing Kat Ross Kline as the new Director of the Ellis Theatre Guild. As Kline settled into her new role, there was an opportunity for student-led productions to shine by taking on more important roles in productions.

Marks is assisted by Casriel as the stage manager. Together, they are working to bring this production to life as the department adjusts to this transition period.

“I think having the student-led play be during the season is a great planning choice because it gives our new director, Ms. Ross Kline, time to adjust to the Hill School, get to know the students, and time to really entrench herself in what we do here before immediately throwing her into directing a show,” Casriel noted.

About a month into the production of “Clue,” the cast and crew are already entrenched in the process of putting together a great show for the community. Given the authority over the production, students implemented what they wanted to see in their ideal production.

Marks in particular used this opportunity to evaluate her experiences in past shows and build off them.

“I’ve been reflecting on all the other shows that I’ve done and what made them enjoyable, so I’ve been trying to take a couple of things from how we did that and leave out the bad things,” Marks said.

Marks and Casriel both remember enjoying their time working on the set of 2022’s musical, “Love, Dot” and expressed a desire to recreate that creative environment in their work.

It appears that the cast and crew are working hard to put together a great show, and are excited to perform Clue at the end of the Fall term for the Hill community.

“We got to watch everybody come into their personalities and their characters and just play in this sandbox that we created, and watch them have fun and figure out the scenes,” Casriel said “It was a great experience to watch my friends create art.”

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