Stone Bridge High School
"Strength doesn't come from what you can do, it comes from overcoming things you once thought you couldn't." When life decides to throw everything it has at us, and then some, we have to remember that we're not alone. Freedom High School's heart-touching introspective piece of "Perspective" showed both the fragility and fortitude of the human spirit, as it examines the psyche of the teenage mind.
Written by the students of Freedom High School, "Perspective" provided an accurate depiction of a juvenile brain, especially because it was created by and for adolescents. The show centered around an intertwining story of anxious students dealing with high school life, replicating scenes from different characters' points of view. All the while, a nagging Subconscious, played by Cami DiVenere, plagued the inner monologue of kids, inserting invasive insults into their thoughts.
Given the task of delving into serious topics, such as depression and anxiety, every actor rose to the occasion, performing both maturely and gracefully. Tyler Potock as Riley made great use of physicality to show the negative emotions he was feeling. The more his anxious thoughts set in, the more clammy and fidgety he became, until he finally lashed out at his friend Sam (Molly Anthony). As the play shifted to a therapy session, Anthony displayed vulnerability as she spilled her heart out. She precisely portrayed the grief and anxiety of a person who had lost a loved one. Dr. Clarke, played by Sarah Rossman, brought a calming and authoritative presence to the cast. She brought out the best of the other characters, supplying a calm to their chaos, a yin to their yang. But the actress who tied the whole show together was Cami DiVenere. Playing the Subconscious of each character, DiVenere attacked and belittled every actor. Her biting words of self-doubt and uncertainty were emphasized even further by her intensity and inflection as she spoke.
While their faces were not seen, the work that the technicians did for the show could not go unnoticed! Providing a space for the Subconscious to enter was crucial, so use of lighting by Claire Nguyen to show when an actor's inner monologue started and ended was impeccable. The minimalist set, accompanied only by the props made by Cami DiVenere and Sarah Rossman, generated a neutral blank space that highlighted the actors as they delivered stunning arrays of emotion. Stage manager Allison Fountaine gave the play a realistic feel. Her blocking made the acting feel natural, despite having to work around COVID restrictions. Fountaine's use of slow-motion choreography while an actor was in an inner monologue added another layer of excellence to a show already chock full of them.
As curtains closed on Freedom High School's unvarnished production of "Perspective," a sense of serene calm and peace settled in. With the message that no matter what, there are people that will help you when you need it is an important one to remember. Life is a storm, whether we like it or not. It's going to try to knock us down. No matter how turbulent the winds or how torrential the rain, we still have people to support us. "You can't control the weather, but you can grab an umbrella to make things better."
Clarksburg High School
What if subconsciouses could talk? What if they could speak aloud all one's thoughts- including the nasty, overthinking, negative ones? Freedom High School's Perspective invited their audience into the world of four teenagers and their inner bullies: their subconsciouses. Using an original script written about the reality of mental illnesses, FHS not only told a creative story, but also showcased their unlimited creativity and ability to spread awareness on a serious topic through a one-act play.
The show followed Sam, Riley, Quinn, and Kayla throughout their journey to seek help for the effects of their mental illnesses. Through everyday interactions, their Subconscious would feed the characters anxious, hurtful thoughts that would affect them as well as those around them. Ending on a hopeful note, the characters broke the fourth wall for a final time, explaining that everyone's feelings are valid and informing the audience it's never too late to find help.
Dr. Clarke, portrayed by Sarah Rossman, gave a wonderful performance and was able to enunciate her lines clearly, even with her mask on. Additionally, Molly Anthony, who played Sam, developed her character's arc intelligently through her slow realization that others can go through issues similar to her own. She also waited to reveal her anxious thoughts until later in the show. In this way, she expressed that people could seem like they're okay as they fight battles within themselves in secret. Finally, the Subconscious, played by Cami DiVenere, made the brilliant choice to utilize a slightly more nasal, high-pitched voice to convey how annoying one's subconscious can be when one has a mental illness.
A writing team consisting of four people scripted this show themselves, using candid, non-sugarcoated language to really give their audience a full picture. Mental illness tends to be glossed over in the media, but FHS's creative team did a wonderful job keeping it honest. They seemed to know their audience and catered to it, reflecting teens by using things like modern lingo. Incredible lighting choices and execution of those choices were carried out by Claire Nguyen, which balanced out the lack of an elaborate set or excessive props. It added dimensions to the scenes and served as an emotional reminder that performances can finally use a theater's lighting and sound after over a year of virtual shows due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Though props were limited, the lack of them helped bring the focus of each scene to the important issues being represented without the distraction of flashy items.
The twelve-person cast and crew of Freedom High School's Perspective might have been small in size, but not once did they lack any sort of power. The necessary discourse on this topic was approached beautifully, in a concise, engaging, and explicitly truthful fashion. One's subconscious isn't always one's friend. More times than not, it can be one's enemy. Maybe subconsciouses should come out in the open and speak their minds just like Sam's, Riley's, Quinn's, and Kayla's did- it's time for their bullying to finally cease.