Performing a steam-punk version of a well-known David Campton play, the high school theater group was one of 42 schools across the state to make it to the semi-final round in the state’s high school theater competition this weekend.
The group performed “Cagebirds” in the preliminary round of competition at the Duxbury Performing Arts Center on Saturday, March 2 against a statewide total of 124 high school teams. The all-female cast decided to take a “steam punk” tack with the play, which focuses on Victorian-era clothing and settings, but with a modern twist. For example, steam punk usually includes modern technology in the Victorian setting powered by steam instead of electricity.
Darin MacFarlane, director and chairman of the Massachusetts Education Theater Guild, said that although the competition process is long and exhausting, it is very exciting for the students to have the chance to perform in Boston. Now in his 16th year as director, he plans on continuing his streak of eight years of competing in the final round in Boston.
“It’s very exciting for students to have the opportunity to perform to a packed house of over 2,000 people,” he said. “They are working so hard to stay in this competition. It’s impressive.”
After Saturday’s performance, the group was awarded four individual honors and were allowed to move on to the next round. The all-female cast includes student director and performer Mandy McLellan and performers Shannon Hunt, Rose Brewer, Danielle Jones, Madeline Lies, Madison Tower, and Skyler Wright.
In “Cagebirds,” six women/birds are locked in a cage together. A wild bird is entered into the cage and inspires an intense conversation between the women about breaking free. MacFarlane said the play reflects fear of change.
“We often create our own cages and are afraid to move out of them when we have the chance,” he said. “We force ourselves to live in these cages and this is the story of what happens when an opportunity for change is presented.”
MacFarlane said he enjoys watching the students grow throughout the performances and competition and is inspired by their dedication.
“I’m always amazed at how excited the students get about creating a piece of art,” he said. “It’s like painting or playing music; they are putting all their effort into creating something that they can show to their peers.”
The group will perform this coming Saturday for the chance to compete against thirteen other teams at the state finals at the John Hancock Hall.