The following article was written by Seward High School junior Creeanna Whitcome for her column “Blast from the Past” where she peruses school newspapers from decades past and connects topics with present events. For more student news, please visit our site: http://shstoday.org/
Since 1940, the drama program at Seward High has survived budget cuts and scheduling difficulties; however, it faced more challenges in 2016. Throughout the decades, the drama program has morphed from a dramatic interpretation sponsored by a specific class, to two school-wide major productions a year, to now only community based works that welcome the talent of the next generation.
According to the April 1940 issue of Seward’s Folly (the former Seward High newspaper), the junior class production of “Foot Loose” took a comedic twist on everyday struggles of suburban citizens. While perusing the cast list from the original article, one might recognize many names — some who went on to reside in and benefit the community, such as Larry Urbach, co-founder of the Urbach store.
In recent years, having individual class plays would require after school effort and, with the increase in sports and academic activities over the past seventy-seven years, would be close to impossible. The first semester of this year prompted a drama program of this kind; however, it only had three participants.
Although currently not what it used to be, the drama program has thrived over the years as one of the most tenacious offered at Seward High. Since 1992, Dan Marshall directed and produced a play every semester. Prior to his arrival at Seward High, the school had a joint program of music and drama, but no teacher to act as director and producer. Mr. Marshall has filled that role over the past twenty-five years, except for a five year stint in the early 2000’s when Mickie Waldron took over as the drama teacher and theater director and made it her primary love and occupation. When she left, Mr. Marshall was asked to take it back.
Last year, Mr. Marshall retired as head of the drama program. According to him, besides the play producer and director, there has to be a theater director (someone who builds sets and controls lighting and sound) and volunteers (to aid in costumes, props, and makeup). Unfortunately, this past year, the program lacked this necessary support to continue as a class.
The drama outlet for Seward High students now resides in community productions. The next play will be exhibited April 14 and 15, plus April 19-22, by the Port City Players with “You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown. An average day in the life of Charlie Brown.” The cast includes students of the elementary and middle school, with one high school participant. (For more information, visit the Port City Players Facebook page.)
Recently, SHS drama program has had sufficient student interest, a committed teacher, and room in the master schedule; however, it lacks the necessary support. Although an after school program could be a great solution, interested students are often over-committed or have conflicting obligations. Furthermore, the opportunity for high school students to participate in community plays is limited. However, with assistance from community members who have a passion for the dramatic arts, the program can be revitalized to its past successes of ten, twenty, or even seventy-seven years ago.