Ah, high school. That period of life when one is expected to reach that coveted level of maturity that sculpts the gawky, awkward teenager into a prepared, young adult, ready to face the world… or so they say. In fact, anyone who has to spend seven wretched hours a day, five days a week, surrounded by high school students may challenge this notion. From the spontaneous games of tag in the hallways to unfinished business in the restroom, it is easy to ask the question, “How much have we really changed since the toddler stage?” Even more perplexing, how is it possible for so many of these students, supposedly at the peak of their maturity, to blatantly disregard basic life lessons taught as early as elementary school?
Perhaps it is quite fitting, then, that the Logan High theater department decided on Robert Fulghum’s “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” as this year’s play, featuring performers Ashton Bergsjo, Daniel Francis, Emma Goring, Patrick Grob, Maddie Kondel, Morgan Ogilvie, Clarity Perry, Sophie Shepherd, Victoria Stafford and Curtis White. Backstage crew members included Brandon Carrico and Tristen Cooper.
The play is comprised of several vignettes based off of Fulghum’s short essays covering a range of topics, such as childhood, inclusion, purpose, religion, mourning, and death. Laced with humor and depth, “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” offers insight about the simplicity and valor of the life story, asserting that the basic rules expected of kindergarteners should be adhered by adults alike for a better world.
“You guys should feel special,” audience member Klara Ricks said to cast members after a performance. “I cried… twice! And I never cry!”
Performer Maddie Kondel also found the Fulghum’s writing to be touching and endearing. “I just thought that they were short but sweet stories, and they could be uplifting and positive,” she said of her favorite scenes ‘Are There Any Questions?’ and ‘Christmas/Valentine’s Day.’ “All of the stories were really cute though, and if you listened closely to them, you were able to gather messages that could possibly help you in your life.”
"I cried... twice! And I never cry!"
Arguably the most memorable story was that of “the MOTB,” or “the Mother of the Bride,” featuring the entire cast donned in fancy hats and boutonnieres (courtesy of costume designer Jared Rounds), a hilariously doomed wedding, and the only kissing scene in the entire performance, shared between Emma Goring and Ashton Bergsjo. The episode focused on the unhinged nature of the mother of the bride, planning the most extravagant, over-the-top wedding for her precious daughter. Only when the fateful day arrives, the bride falls ill and pukes all over the front of the chapel, the groom, several wedding guests and most importantly, the Mother of the Bride. Needless to say, the wedding didn’t go exactly as planned. Similarly, the scene would never quite go as planned either. Whether someone forgot a line or someone misplaced a prop, one could say that the scene was performed by a cast strongly dedicated to its method acting techniques.
“[My] favorite scene was MOTB, because nothing ever went right. Ever,” performer Sophie Shepherd laughed. “And because I was the cue for Emma and Ashton’s kiss, I could drag it out as long as I wanted!”
But the chaos on stage seemed to charm the audience. Tristen Cooper, a member of the tech crew, mentioned that watching the audience from the sound box during the scene was his favorite part of each performance.
“It was astounding,” Cooper said. “At first, they laughed then they got a little quiet. Then, when [Emma] threw up, they exploded with laughter. And when they saw the groom hold her still, they said ‘awe’ and got all happy, like it was a fairytale that ended happily ever after.”
But the challenges didn’t end at that one scene. Due to the ongoing construction of the high school, the play was performed in the auditorium of Mount Logan Middle School.
“We lost our stage and had to [perform] at the middle school,” tech crew member Brandon Carrico said. “As a result, we had to come up with a show that involved so few actors and so little of a set. Having such a short time to do tech rehearsals and blocking on the stage we used, we did a great job. Everyone had little things that could have gone better, but we all played it off well and managed to cover it up.”
With a small cast of ten, students were also expected to memorize more lines, learn more blocking, and as a result, set aside more rehearsal time.
“There were so many long paragraphs!” Kondel said, recalling the frustration. “Once it was down, it was easy and routine, but it was definitely a struggle at first.”
"Mitzi Mecham has to be the best director to work with. She likes to get the job done while having fun along the way."
Others, such as performer Patrick Grob, felt that the largest obstacle from participating in the play was in the form of class assignments. “The most challenging thing by far is having to write journal entries, because you only get one hand turkey,” he concluded.
Despite these challenges, the cast was able to overcome them under the direction of the brilliant Mitzi Mecham who has been directing Logan High’s musical and play productions for years.
“Mitzi Mecham has to be the best director to work with,” Carrico said. “She likes to get the job done while having fun along the way. I could walk into rehearsal upset but always walk out with a smile on my face, because she always has the right comment to say on everything. I can’t say anything specific though; what is said over the headset stays on the headset.”
But the experience of the play went far beyond the meticulous memorization of lines and the exhausting hours of practice after school. Across the board, the cast agreed that their participation had been made worthwhile through the close bonds and friendships they developed.
“The atmosphere [of the play] is so much different than musical,” Grob observed. “Since it’s a smaller cast, you really get to not only know people, but develop friendships and inside jokes with them that continue long after closing night. It’s a more personal experience.”
Shepherd agreed. “You are around this small group of people pretty much every day and because of that, you create a bond,” she said. “I’ve formed close friendships with pretty much everyone in that class.”
“Funny moments mainly took place after practices and performances when we would go party at McDonald’s. They always had CNN News on, so of course, we’d just argue conspiracy theories of Ted Cruz being an alien and how he only acts as he thinks normal humans would do,” laughed Kondel.
“And somebody in our cast didn’t understand that parking at McDonald’s only goes straight, not diagonally, and got a fake parking ticket with some choice words on it,” Grob added.
Cast member Morgan Ogilvie recalled an improvisation game as one of her favorite memories, where cast members would create new characters with elaborate back stories of crime and evil doing and then have to interact with each other in a rehab support group setting. The game would sometimes carry on backstage during performances, keeping the cast on alert for “secret agents” that could potentially reveal secrets about the other convicts.
Considering all of the words describing the experience, performer Curtis White perhaps sums it up the best: “The play was awesome. If you weren’t there, you are now a shape not unlike a rectangle.”
News Editor: Elizabeth Needham, Emanuel Abebe
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