Perry County Central High School’s drama program The Perry County Commodore Players held a tech rehearsal on Sept. 21, for their production of the play The Jack Tales. The rehearsal was a chance for the student actors to experiment with their costumes, props, stage placement, and try out new dialogue that was ad-libbed.
Phill Neace, director and drama teacher at PCCHS, offered words of approval when the actors tried out something that was new and worked with the scene. He also jokingly threatened to throw a color marker at an actor when they forgot their lines.
Neace explained that he liked doing these sorts of plays every four years or so, and something that was Appalachian or country. Something that wasn’t too serious, and the audiences could have fun with.
“It’s typically just the idea you have kids that play outdoors. That is the idea of The Jack Tales, these are children stories, but typically the characters are children and their the kind of our own area that play outdoors. We tell the kids don’t expect to have shoes, because kids back then in this are barefoot, and that is how you are going to be. That was the way it was for Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and then for this,” said Neace.
Neace also said that both adults and kids would each have their own plays that are tailored towards them.
“Typically, these Jack Tales, there are three that are solely for the kids and the other three are for the families. The adults will get the jokes more than the kids,” he said.
The Players only had six weeks to put the production together, and it involved over 40 students. The play features six different scenes, and six different tales. Each tale has its own separate cast.
One of the tales, The Devil and Wicked John, was produced in the Drama 2 class, and was the first time actors rehearsed outside of classroom.
The drama students built all of the sets, the background flats, most of the props, and most of the costumes.
“A lot of the actors have brought in their own costume pieces for this. Very few costumes have actually been, very few anything from any department, have been purchased by professional companies or something. We typically like the idea that our actors made their own costumes, or our costume department makes it for them. It’s all student made, that is what they learn in the classroom,” Neace said.
The only thing that Neace does is direction. All of the students sign off on what they would like to do.
Not all of the Jacks will be played by male students in the play. Neace explained that there were typically more girls in The Players than boys.
“For this one, there are six Jack Tales, we decided that we are not going to have one student basically become the Jack, and we were saying that we are going to get six Jacks, and just because there was a surplus of girls that want to be in drama more than boys. We decided to make two of the Jacks girls. So, there just Jackies in the story,” said Neace.
The backstage was filled with busy students working on costumes, and some of the cast gathering around to talk about the play. They all said that the drama program gave them a sense of family, and that they all were close. They praised Neace for not only being an excellent teacher/director but someone they could talk to outside of class.
John Castle, a PCCHS senior who plays the part of Wicked John, said this about joining the drama club, “The main reason why I got into drama was to get out of a class, Arts and Humanities, I wanted to get out of that class and I’m like I’m going to take drama cause that seems like the easiest thing. As the days went by, I was like I really like this.” Castle has been in several of previous plays that The Players produced.
“Anyone who goes to high school, or going to high school, join the drama program cause it’s really cool and really fun,” said Castle.
The play will be held in the PCCHS auditorium with the opening night on Oct. 1, at 7 p.m. Additional shows will be held from Oct. 2-3, at 7 p.m., and a Sunday matinee on Oct. 4, at 2 p.m. The ticket prices are $7 for adults and $5 for students.
TJ Caudill can be reached at 606-436-5771 or on Twitter @HazardHerald.