Perry Central High School’s drama company again competed this year at the Kentucky Theatre Association’s dramatic arts festival in Lexington, and again the actors came away with some hardware.
Sophomore Seth Lewis became the latest Commodore Player to be named to the All-State Cast, the dramatic equivalent to the all-state team in basketball.
“I was shocked,” Lewis said as he described his initial reaction upon hearing his name called during the festival. “I thought there were plenty of other people in our company that deserved it more than I did. I was just so happy that I’d gotten it. It’s a big honor.”
Lewis said that he believed he had put on a “fair” performance during the Players’ production of James Zager’s “The Shakespeare Project,” but he didn’t expect that his performance would single him out.
“I’d done stuff like this before, classic versus modern interpretation,” he said. “I’ve played Romeo twice now, but I didn’t think that it would amount to anything. So now, I guess I proved myself wrong.”
This year made the fourth straight that a Commodore Player has been named to the All-State Cast, no small feat for a school where athletics have generally received more attention in term of extracurricular activities. This was something that was not lost on Lewis when he received the honor himself.
“I had to think after I won that, I did what they did,” he said. “So it made me feel more successful as an actor that I ever have.”
Lewis wasn’t the only actor who received praise from judges at KTA. Ramsey Hall, Austin Campbell, and John Logan were also presented with the Judge’s Discretionary Award, an honor based on an element of the play that stood out from the rest of the production, explained PCC’s drama instructor, Philip Neace. Hall, Campbell, and Logan each played paparazzi in the production and were background extras, but “also functioned as main characters in the scenes of the play,” Neace noted. “They did an exceptional task very well.”
Hall described their role as drumming up audience participation and ensuring that the audience remained engrossed in what was happening onstage.
“We weren’t on the stage, we were more in the pit,” Hall explained. “The audience seemed to feed off that also. It was really fun to do, actually, because all of that was improv.”
Acting in a production meant for competition is completely different than performing before a home audience in a fall or spring production, the students noted. For one, the pressure simply isn’t as high on their own stage. “It was definitely more nerve-racking,” Logan said.
“There was a lot more pressure put on us, and as actors, too.” Lewis added.
Some of that pressure may have come from the fact that the Players had just over three weeks to learn their lines, rehearse, and ensure that they would be ready for competition. They had just completed their fall production of “Aladdin” in September, and went directly into preparations for KTA.
Add that to the fact that some schools have a much tighter focus on the dramatic arts than does Perry Central.
“I think we really accomplished something, considering a lot of the schools had been rehearsing for months,” Logan continued.
Ultimately, each of the actors said they think Perry Central’s drama program is on the rise. They noted that Principal Neal Feltner attended their fall production in September, and was also in the audience to support the Players at KTA and is helping raise funds to spruce up the PCC auditorium.
“That means a whole lot to us, too,” Lewis noted.
And it also doesn’t hurt that the Players have managed to snag some awards at KTA each of the past four years, something they hope to replicate in 2013. “To come from here and to come back with an award,” Lewis said, “it makes us feel good.”