Ink by Annandale High School can be viewed at: https://youtu.be/6_-vxxKtQIM
Quince Orchard High School
During this pandemic, in-person hangouts, classes, and conversations have been replaced with video calls and virtual meetings. One would expect these new precedents to affect live theatre, but Annandale High School’s student-written horror film, Ink, is proof that the performing arts can continue to thrive through the web. The short film followed five high school students working on a biology project via video conference. However, when Lily (Amanda Weaver) seemed to be strangely affected by the vintage fountain pen she bought as a gift for her friend Yuna (Han Le), the conference suddenly went horribly wrong.
The film boasted a cast of only five performers, but each and every one brought life to their characters. Notable performances included Miguel Orozco as Parker, the goofy class clown, and Weaver as Lily, a sweet girl in possession of a cursed object. Weaver’s use of facial expressions and physical movement struck terror into the audience, and Orozco’s comedic chops and sense of timing brought levity to grim moments. Even as his friend appeared to be possessed by a malicious spirit, he found ways to make puns about his dinner.
But the true hidden gem in this film is Le as Yuna, Lily’s best friend and the intended recipient of the strange pen. Every aspect of her performance was incredibly genuine, and audiences found themselves immediately relating to and sympathizing with her. Her tangible panic in the final minutes of the film truly illustrated how high the stakes had grown, and her near-breakdown as she watched her best friend succumb to the mysterious shadow that had been haunting her is a masterclass in both physical and emotional acting.
The film’s script (which was written by the performers) truly captured the lives of high school students, in a way that many professional screenwriters cannot. The dialogue flowed naturally and was peppered with pop-culture references that served as subtle foreshadowing as to the true monstrosity the characters were facing. Special effects (provided by Weaver) were impressive, especially considering that the performance was filmed in one take and the actors were forced to apply said effects themselves.
The shift to virtual theatre may be daunting to some, but the cast of Annandale High School’s Ink proved that video calls may just be the next Broadway stage. With a well-written script and remarkable actors, this film was a deliciously creepy haunt that proved that wherever there are performers, theatre will thrive.
Quince Orchard High School
In the time of the Coronavirus, theatre production has come to a screeching halt. From the bright lights of Broadway to the small community theatres and high schools scattered all around the country, this pandemic has made life for actors, directors, stage managers, singers, and theatre nerds alike extremely hard.
However, Annandale High School proved once and for all that it is possible for us to do what we love, even if it’s through a computer screen. Their student-written production, Ink, a short horror film followed the dastardly deeds of a bewitched pen, was expertly and creatively written and beautifully performed. The show followed a group of friends working on a group project for school when Lily (played by the talented Amanda Weaver), presented a beautiful fountain pen as a gift for Yuna (brilliantly performed by Han Le). Things started to go sideways when the group started to notice Lily’s strange, possessed behavior, as they tried to solve the mystery of the pen, and the shadowy figure that seemed to follow it (played by Annandale alumna Savannah Gravitt).
One of the hardest parts about putting on an online production is resisting the urge to pretend you are on a stage, with a live audience in front of you. Going into this show, I was worried the cast would pretend everything was normal. Immediately, I was proven wrong. The play’s setting was an actual Zoom call between five friends trying to do a group project for school. The script masterfully worked with the setting of a Zoom call, and not around it.
Not being in a theatre doesn’t stop Annandale High School from showing their technical abilities. For example, whenever that creepy shadow lurks in Lily’s room, her LED lights turned a deep red, illuminating the sense of danger that was sure to come, and foreshadowing the red ink that exploded from the pen at the end of the show.
The script impressed yet again, with the simple way it is written. Most of the time, when a show is written about teenagers, it is written by adults who don’t know how teenagers talk. Annandale High School took this opportunity to fix this error; not only was this play student-written, but it was written by the members of the cast! The writers expertly established a casual tone between the friends, which allowed the play to seem real, and not an adult pretending to be a teenager.
All that being said, a good script is nothing without good actors. Fortunately, this production had no shortage of good actors. Amanda Weaver presented her skills of putting on a fantastically possessed face. She was somehow able to maintain a balance of blank and creepy. And Han Le, playing the role of Yuna, showed her fantastic stage presence and her ability to seem nerdy and friendly at the same time until she shifted into a nervous, pleading breakdown that had the audience on the edges of their seats. The play also featured Mariam Sesay as Fatima, the studious one in the group, determined to find the origin of the pen, the brilliantly sassy Haleluya Worku as Brooke, and Miguel Orozco as Parker, who provided comic relief throughout the production. Orozco displayed excellent comedic timing, and the ability to always make a joke out of popular culture (anyone up for a game of Among Us?).
“Ink” is now available to view on the Annandale Theatre Company YouTube Channel. Its runtime is 17 minutes, and I guarantee that it will have you on the edge of your seat the entire time.