Tuesday, June 2, 2015

WHS Student Actors Perform for Young Audiences

Washougal High School drama students recently took their original production, “The Fish and the Clam" or "Keep Clam and Be Yourshellf,” on the road to several Washougal schools.  A student-created show has been a part of the curriculum of the WHS Second Year Drama class for the past eleven years and is a capstone project for the young actors.

“Students start by submitting ideas at the beginning of the semester,” said WHS drama instructor, Kelly Gregersen.  “A premise is chosen and then they work at improvisation to get a feel for the flow of the show.  After that, I take everything that they have created and turn their ideas into a script.”

WHS junior, Krysia Woods said the process was fun. “We took the main idea and then acted out what were wanted our characters to say,” she explained.  “This way we could build in our own personalities into the characters.”

The play tells the story of Marlin, a fish who is not happy being a fish.  Thanks to a magical clam, he is able to try being other sea creatures but, in the end, finds that he is most happy to be himself.

Through Marlin’s transformation, the plot also explores the nature of cliques.  “The sharks are tough, the jelly fish are mellow, crabs are, well, crabby,” Gregersen said. “The moral of the story is really to be happy with who you are and that is it is ok to try new things but you don’t need to try to be something that you are not to do that.

According to Gregersen, this year’s half-hour production is particularly entertaining since it started off with a very streamlined idea and a strong focus.  “This show also plays well to both the younger and older students,” he said.  “We stuck every fish pun in the book into this thing.  And there is even some modern music snuck in.”  The clever script also incorporates comical references to popular movies such as “Finding Nemo” and Little Mermaid.”

“The drama students get so much out of this,” Gregersen explained.  “First, they get to see their ideas become a show.  It creates a very deep ownership for them.  And then they get to perform it to various audiences.  They put everything they have into the play.  These kids own this show and their parts.  And you can see it in the performances.”

For senior Marshall Graham, the class production meant being able to have an additional theater experience that did not require the afterschool commitment that the larger productions have.  Graham, who played Kenickie in the Fall production of Grease, was not able to be a part of the Spring show due to his busy schedule.  He enjoyed the process to create an original script and said it was different to take a show on the road and perform in front of very young students.  “The children are a lot more energetic as an audience,” he said. “Sometimes they will laugh for minutes.  They really get into it.  Adults hold more in.”

Woods hopes that the play will not only send a powerful message to young students about being themselves, but will also help inspire them to look into the drama program at WHS.  “I did not have older students that I could look up to when I was their age,” she said.  “I hope we can have an impact on these kids.”