Theater teacher Jeff Good says that this spring’s school play had the largest cast (44 students, including the stage crew) and the shortest rehearsal period (just seven weeks!) of any production which he has directed in his time at Cardigan.
“Usually, there’s a big crowd at the first rehearsal,” he explains. “But the numbers usually dwindle as students encounter conflicts in their schedules and have to make choices. That didn’t happen this year; the kids just kept showing up!”
This year’s one-act play, titled How to Overthrow Your Student Government and written by Ian McWethy, began when a freshman at Washington High School (played by Mateo Escalante ’22) had just lost an election for student council president. Enter Julius Caesar, who points out that he can always overthrow the school government in seven easy steps. As the protagonist’s coup escalates from choosing an appropriately glorious title to developing a signature look to planning a sinister marketing strategy, he must ask himself just how far he's willing to go. An online description of the play calls it “a wickedly smart comedy that explores how autocrats, past and present, consolidate power and exploit our fears.”
“I picked the play before spring break without knowing where the current events of today would lead,” says Mr. Good. “In the spirit of Greek theater, plays about society are not always favorable and often contain warnings. This play has a powerful and timely message about leadership told in a very humorous way.” The production also coincided appropriately with the elections of Cardigan’s school leaders for next year.
In order to accommodate all the students who wanted to participate in the play, Mr. Good had to get creative. Julius Caesar was played by seven different actors throughout the play, and a chorus of Washington High students added side commentary throughout the play. “It was fun to have such a large cast on stage,” says Mr. Good. “Many students were acting for the first time. It’s something I love to see; I’m glad they were able to experience performing in front of a live audience.”
Student actor Terry Langetieg ’23 agrees: “The huge cast was integrated really well. Mr. Good did a great job making sure everyone had a part.”
It was inclusiveness that made a difference for many students, and not just those who tried acting for the first time. Mateo Escalante, for example, has been in all eight plays during his four years at Cardigan. “I really like the camaraderie of the theater program,” says Mateo. “It's a place that lets everyone feel good in their own skin, get out of their comfort zone, and hang out with people who they don't usually get to hang out with. I've gotten to know my Cardigan brothers better through acting.”
How to Overthrow Your Student Government went live last Friday evening at 7:30 pm. Mateo and Terry and the record-breaking cast and crew put on an outstanding performance that kept the audience laughing and entertained. They broke the fourth wall, put on a fashion show, and explored leadership styles in a scene titled “Do As Geiko Does.” The twists and turns of the plot made for an unforgettable night of dramatic theater, and the actors on stage once again proved that the foundations of the Cardigan theater program remain rooted in passion and courage and inclusivity.
Cast and Crew