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A Spare Me, Mount Vernon High School, Alexandria, Virginia, November 17, 2018

Kathryn Shepherd

Hayfield Secondary School


What makes you who you are? In the scope of a dystopian future, Mount Vernon High School's A Spare Me masterfully explored the answer to this question. Living in a world plagued by an extreme under population and resource crisis, children that die are replaced with "spares" downloaded with their memories, but when a fellow student is replaced, the true and chilling nature of these "spares" is revealed.


Written for The Waterwell Drama Program, A Spare Me is relatively unknown. However, because of its unique origin, the playwright, A. Rey Pamatmat, has devised a script perfect for high school actors.


The play commences with the replacement of a classmate, Sel (Kevin Martinez), with his spare, but Sel's spare and his peers quickly notice that something is amiss. Through awkward and emotional interactions with Win (Nicole Duchaine) and Doppe (Laura Schmechel), it became clear to the audience that those characters lost something when Sel died even though he appeared to be standing on stage alongside them.


Adding a new dimension to the plot, Win's spare, Tee (Keeley Bryant), was portrayed particularly well. With a dignified posture and diction and a hotheaded way about her, Bryant gave Tee a personality independent from Win, striking the core of what it means to be a person not just a "spare."


The trio of runaway "spares" contributed a new point of view. Far removed from the characters in the first act, these misfits ran away from home in search of asylum from the trials and tribulations they have faced. The charming and hopeful Alawa (Donovan Fisher) served as a compelling voice of reason for Dos. An impassioned young woman, Dos (Katia Ramirez) captivated the audience with the raw emotion present when relaying her grievances. A counterpart to this couple, Cop (Sarah Funkhouser) added levity and touches of comedy.


The flow of this production was aided greatly by the set. While the set seemed fairly simplistic, it proved to be incredibly versatile. Designed by Tania Romero Gonzalez and Hayleigh Wankowski, the main piece of the set could be adjusted to better fit the scene. The hidden bench and trap door made the changes from place to place seem effortless while the rooftop created a change in scenery. Additionally, the attention to detail was commendable with the incorporation of a school logo and motto and the marbled effect painted on the major set pieces and the stage itself.


Conveying the futuristic nature of the play, the sound effects and lighting created a more immersive experience for the audience. The music between scenes, chosen by Tanner Buggeln, reflected the atmosphere and mood of each scene while the lighting transported the audience to the dystopia. With a mosaic of yellows and oranges or a medley of blues, Micco Aniano Daniels invited the audience to witness a solar flare or the intricacies of the night sky.


Filled with difficult lessons and issues we all need to consider in our own lives, Mount Vernon High School's A Spare Me brought to life the dangers of stripping away individuality with the resounding message "It's Time to Wake Up."

Kaitlin Molloy

Chantilly High School


What if when we died, we were replaced by another person with his own thoughts and our memories? Would they want to be free of us? Tackling the idea of identity and the facade that is appearance, Mount Vernon's production of "A Spare Me" delves into these philosophical questions while questioning what it is to be themselves.


The play was written by A. Rey Pamatmat and first performed for the Waterwell New Works Lab at the Professional Performing Arts School in 2012. Set in the dystopian future of Earth, the human population is in a desolate state, relying on their children to fix the world. Clones called "Spares" are readily available to replace a child in the event of death. The plot follows an intelligently intrepid student, Win, as she realizes the Spare of her boyfriend, Sel, is no longer the same person she loved before he died. Dodging her overbearing parents and vigilant government, Win sets out to discover the dark secrets and truths behind Spares.


Win (Nicole Duchaine) is unapologetically righteous. Duchaine excels at portraying the girl that is too smart for her own good. Through subtle, yet effective, physicalities and changes in posture and diction throughout Win's arc, Duchaine brings to life the charming character. One of her friends, Two (Karly Sargent) provides the much needed comic relief. Sargent used her larger-than-life poetry and cleverly timed responses when playing the bubbly engineer. Contrasting nicely with Duchaine's subtle characterization, whenever the pair were on stage, laughs were sure to follow.


Dos (Katia E. Ramirez) is a runaway Spare whose parents disowned her. Ramirez delivered a moving performance in every scene she appeared in. Although only featured in the second act, Ramirez left a lasting impression exhibiting her overwhelming emotions and believable chemistry with her best friend, Cop and her boyfriend, Alawa. Elga (Isabel Pascal) is a Prefect and a role model to other students. Not only does Pascal's stage presence intimidate, but also intrigues, all eyes were drawn to her when she took the stage and for good reason. Demonstrating her excellent acting ability, Pascal softly melts the hard exterior of Elga away to show someone who deeply cares for her friends.


As a whole, the entire cast individualized every character and stayed engaged in the background which made the scenes interesting,  especially in the courtyard where younger students were playing games, older students would be doing homework or gossiping and two students could be seen sparring.


Adding to the futuristic background of the show, the technical elements did not fail to amaze. Beautiful coloring of the syke from blue to signify an upload, to the slight flashes during the solar storms showed incredible attention to detail shown by the lighting team (Micco Aniano Daniels). The first thing that can be noticed when walking into the theatre is the multi-functional set (Tania Romero Gonzalez & Hayleigh Wankowski). The minimalistic set blew the audience away once they realized how many facets of the set were utilized in different ways over the course of the entire show.


By letting us explore the ideas of identity and individuality, Mount Vernon's production of "A Spare Me" pleads us to stop being who we were and start being who we are.


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