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Tuscarora High School
Listen, a real talk with someone is necessary when feelings of sadness and sorrow creep in. Whether someone is a youth or adult, feelings are a common feature in daily life; Langley High School's production of Real Talk illustrated this well through the dilemma of a college freshman and his struggles as his life rapidly changed.
A student-written show filmed in several settings, Real Talk was a production about Leo, a recent graduate of high school who was conflicted in choosing his life goals. Throughout the story, Leo talked to his therapist, met a potential new love interest, and resolved issues surrounding his family, all while he explored himself and his future career. All of these things were reminiscent of a real college student; Leo was hopeful yet afraid of what was yet to come.
Though the story mostly followed Leo's perspective, the story veered off to different points of view in a creative way. Every member of the cast, whether they had a main or supporting role, were devoted to their part and supplemented Leo's character development with poise as the play progressed.
Eli Roberts' performance as Leo was as unique as it was substantial to the tone of the production. A teen character with frequent mood swings and fluctuating emotions is hard to portray, yet Roberts made the story interesting by developing his character and look as the show progressed. Austin Young as Leo's Dad was an authoritative figure that set up Leo's arc nicely, and contrasted Leo's more loving mother as a forceful figure. Roberts and Young showed a realistic relationship that was meaningful and captivating every time they confronted each other.
With Leo's moods spiraling out of control, his therapist was the only way of letting his feelings out; Keya Umesh played the Therapist with caring and attentive delivery. Her soothing voice was vital in allowing Leo to grow and discover himself. Without Umesh's calming presence, Leo's development would not have been as effective and real. In addition, Gunnar Peacock's portrayal of Mr. Halifax was executed wonderfully because of Peacock's fatherly spirit. Mr. Halifax served as a reflection of what Leo could be in the future, which Peacock wisely implemented because he wrote this enthralling show as well as playing Mr. Halifax.
The cinematography of the film production was astute, as different types of shots, camera angles, and lighting techniques were used in every setting. No light glare was present and each character could be seen and heard well. The color palette of each scene and costume played an important role in each character; for example, Leo's gray shirt at the beginning and his colorful style at the end indicated his development and increase in confidence. The sound ambience, such as birds chirping and wind blowing, was present and adjusted accurately, which added depth to the scenes that were outside.
Langley High School's production of Real Talk was a student-written show including a youth entering the real world, family issues, and love interests; this show had it all! With proper film techniques and character evolution, this play was a work of dedication and commitment that evoked meaningful emotions present in everyday lives of people.
Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology
Everyone, whether young or old, knows that growing up is not easy. Entering the real world is a terrifying reality for most teenagers, and Langley High School's Real Talk describes how a support system can help to overcome any obstacle.
Real Talk was written by Langley student Gunnar Peacock and was born out of a school playwriting club. In addition to being student written, the show was student directed by Peacock and Conor Farah. The story of Real Talk follows Leo as he begins his freshman year of college. Under the stress of familial expectations and new responsibilities, therapy sessions teach Leo how to chase his own passions and step into his true self.
The scriptwriting by Peacock does a wonderful job bringing teenage issues and emotions to light while highlighting the importance of relationships. As a student himself, Peacock was able to mold his own experiences and create a very realistic story; he used language and mannerisms very natural to teenagers today, making every detail of the story ring true to a younger audience. Peacock also wrote scenes that focus on the relationships between characters – the way Leo speaks to his therapist is very different from how he speaks to his father, and both inform how each character impacts his life.
Eli Roberts as Leo played a very relatable teenager – complete with awkward family interactions and a bromance – to build a complex character for the story's center. Roberts was very expressive and did a nice job portraying Leo's path from reluctance to acceptance. When initially closed off, Roberts was fidgety and evaded questions, but slowly grew to open up about his feelings. Leo's therapist was played by Keya Umesh. Umesh truly embodied her character and radiated a soothing presence whenever she appeared onscreen. As she guided Leo through moments of clarity, Umesh delivered her lines with a focused but gentle prompt that put the audience in Leo's shoes.
Tess Jannery-Barney played Aurora, Leo's girlfriend. Roberts and Jannery-Barney had very believable chemistry that captured all of the excitement of young love. Notably, when the two met in a garden and Leo presented Aurora with a dandelion, Jannery-Barney's wholesome reactions made it a very sweet moment to watch. Leo's dad was played by Austin Young. To contrast the quietness of Leo's mom (played by Abhaya Tyrka), Young utilized sharp delivery and a commanding tone. Although initially very strict, Young later introduced an understanding softness to his demeanor to portray the development of Leo and his father's relationship.
The Langley technicians utilized expert camera angles and editing to enhance the story and bring their filmed show to life. The filming and editing team (Conor Farah, Tess Jannery-Barney, and Sophia Colabatistto) filmed from various angles with smooth cuts, which helped keep the conversation-heavy scenes engaging to watch. The team also used interesting moving shots to follow Leo and his family around the set, capturing emotion and strained relationships.
Overall, Langley's cast and crew created an inspiring piece that brings awareness to teenage struggles and the complexities of adulthood in Real Talk.