The resilient Jenison High School thespians have pulled off a totally new experience this year! The “Festival of Plays” is a 26 year old Jenison theatre tradition that hasn’t missed a beat. From student directors choosing their scripts, organizing auditions and casting the parts with fellow students; it remains a largely student led experience, offering each participant unique points of learning about acting, and the direction/production of their own shows. Through ticket sales, it has also been considered a major annual fundraising event.
During early summer, the directors conducted auditions through video chats and prepared for the show to go on! Throughout the next few months, casts would meet virtually, outdoors and in-person while adhering to the appropriate safety recommendations. Now, they are ready to ‘hit the stage’ and tomorrow the public will have the opportunity to view the three shows that have been underway.
Check out the short promo video done by Senior, Brandon Sams.
The YouTube link below will take you to the recorded performances, Friday, September 11 at 7pm.
There will also be an online opportunity to donate to the Thespian program if you’d like as well.
It is really exciting to see these passionate students work hard and be able to complete their goal in the midst of this difficult season. Please join me; mark your calendars and make a plan to watch the students perform three great shows this weekend!
1) 13 Ways to Screw Up Your College Interview
Two college interviewers are tasked with finding another applicant by the end of the day, or else they’ll be fired. Their only option is to look at the waitlist, which has 13 unseen students. Directed by Alex Wood and Carmine Sabatini.
2) The 9 Worst Breakups of All Time
You think your breakup was bad? Eve Tonsil, an employee of the nonprofit company “Relationships for a Better Tomorrow” is here to take you on a tour of the nine worst breakups of all time, from the Cro-Magnon era to the Civil War, to a smattering of modern-day breakups. A comedy that proves that no matter how hard someone has stomped on your heart…it could always be worse. Directed by Liberty Kasper and Katelyn Warkentien.
3) 12 Angry Jurors
A drama in which a jury decides whether to put a 19 year old man on death row for the alleged murder of his father. Directed by Connor Vachon and Maddison Cheyne.
Can’t make it this weekend? The link will remain available online so you won’t miss your chance.
Meet Ashlee DeGraaf
Jenison Theatre Director & English Teacher
This is also a great opportunity to introduce the newest addition to the Jenison Theatre program. As Todd Avery prepared to retire at the end of last year, Ms. Ashlee DeGraaf was introduced at the annual (virtual) student Thespian award show last spring. We’re very excited to have Ashlee accept the position of Theatre Director and English teacher at Jenison High School.
Ashlee is a West Michigan native who made teaching stops in California and then Indianapolis before finding her way back home. She has really enjoyed the school year so far and has been connecting with theatre students while sponsoring the Festival of Plays show alongside Julie Oosterink (Jenison Junior High School Theatre Director).
She enjoys spending time with family and looks forward to more of that now that she’s back in the area. She has made the most of her Covid year while hiking, traveling and reading (with a count of 46 books already)!
Ashlee is grateful for the community support of the arts and is really looking forward to building on our distinguished theatre program.
“Well, this has been a wonderful and strange start to the year with distancing and masks, but all the students I have met have been so kind and welcoming.
I have some big shoes to fill but I also very much appreciate inheriting the gift of an amazing program like Jenison. I also look forward to adding some new elements, possibly some improv projects.
I have been super impressed with the students and their drive to overcome some some really frustrating circumstances. They have worked hard to produce the best shows that they can. We hope you enjoy the Festival of Plays!”Ashlee DeGraff