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Skills of tech theater put to the test

Carly Bagale and Stevie Weborn

The upcoming Panther Theatre production of “The Anatomy of Gray” is geared toward tapping into the skills of the technical theater students.

With its elaborate set and special effects, the students get to show off what they have learned in their tech classes.

“Our goal for this production was to give everyone something to look at,” PHS theater teacher Michael Stephens said.

Grant Milam and Keith Anderson build props in the shop.

The play is described as a coming-of-age story about 15-year-old June Muldoon, who is growing up in the small town of Gray, Indiana, in the 1880s. When her father dies, she prays for a healer. When Dr. Galen Gray blows into town in a hot air balloon, June thinks her prayers are answered. “The Anatomy of Gray” is about loss and love, grief and mourning and recovery.

Performances are set for 6 p.m. Thursday and Friday, Oct. 28 and 29, and matinees at noon and 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 30, in the PHS auditorium. Admission is $5, except for PHS students, who are admitted for free.

Theater teacher Michael Stephens makes a list of tasks for students.

The students have been working on sets and rehearsing for most of the school year.

“Last year in the first tech class, we just learned what to do, but now we are in the advanced theater tech class,” said PHS 10th-grader Stevie Welborn. “Every day is different so you’ve got to be prepared. We could be painting, we could be sawing.”

Each day has a different task and taps into a different skill set.

“Each day Mr. Stephens tells us exactly what to do,” student Weston Cody said. “He makes the list, and we carry them out.”

Students enjoy the hands-on aspect of tech theater.

Cody Weston sits atop the ship he helped build for the set.

“Last year we didn’t build, we just learned,” said student Jasson Aguirre. “This year, we are putting our skills to use.”

The theater teacher is happy he has the opportunity to put on a production that requires students to excel past the norm.

“With COVID last year, we couldn’t do much, so this year our goal was to build an elaborate set,” Mr. Stephens said. “We wanted to push our technical kids beyond their limits. They weren’t just going to build platforms.”

For the upcoming production, the tech theater students will be busy.

Kaden Smith.

“For ‘The Anatomy of Gray,’ we added a lot of makeup and effects,” Mr. Stephens said. “We’ve got blank guns, blood packets, fog. We’ve got the works. It will be a lot of tech tricks to keep them involved in the production.”

To achieve the elaborate set, the theater program had to overcome a few obstacles.

“We weren’t prepared for the price of building materials,” Mr. Stephens said. “The price of lumber had quadrupled.”

So they had to get creative to make it come together to keep the students working.

“A lot of parents donated trashed fence wood,” he said. “And the students gathered a lot of wood. With everyone’s involvements, we kept the set going and under budget.

Argenis Flores and Jasson Aguirre paint the set.

“Everything behind this performance is done by the kids,” Mr. Stephens continued. “And the leads are doing well in rehearsals on the theater arts side. The only problem we are working on right now is that we still have not had a single rehearsal with everyone here.”

Leads for “The Anatomy of Gray” include Bailee Stewart, Zane Linkenauger and David Winchester.

According to Mr. Stephens, the overall fall production helps prepare students for the spring one-act play competition.

“We do all this in the fall, so everyone is ready when we begin our UIL one-act play in the spring,” he said. “And after this production, they will be ready.”


Photo IDs:

Students pictured working on the sets and props include Jasson Aguirre, Stevie Welborn, Carly Bagale, Samantha Arcos, Weston Cody, Kaden Smith, Argenis Flores, Keith Anderson and Grant Milam.

Samantha Arcos paints the staircase to a set platform.