After their successful performance of "Once on This Island" this past fall, the students of the Lawrenceville theatre program are now turning their attention to rehearsals for Winterfest, the collective name for a group of short, student-directed plays, which are staged in early February. Despite their brevity, with most of the plays being around 15-20 minutes long, the performances are always very popular with the student body.
The unique nature of the program emphasizes student independence and organization, as directors are tasked with every aspect of assembling a production, from choosing a script to holding auditions and rehearsals. For some directors, it will be their second year directing, while others are stepping up to the role for the first time. Justin Parratt '14 chose a script that follows a poorly led team of improv actors who attempt to put on a performance but end up fighting amongst themselves. The ironic element of the play is coupled with many comedic aspects, which Parratt hopes will "have the whole audience laughing at every other line."
Comedies are popular due to their widespread appeal -- Helen Chen's '13 capstone play, "The Importance of Being Earnest," focuses on ridiculing British high culture. She has high confidence in her cast, saying that "they have the potential to absolutely kill this, so I'm aiming to keep the energy level high throughout, and I hope everyone will just have a great time." The relaxed atmosphere encourages many students to participate, even those without previous theatrical experience.
Other student directors choose to work in teams, taking responsibility for slightly larger productions. Shaili Babbar '13, Celia Aidinoff '13, and Samantha Essig '13 are all veterans of the Winterfest scene, and are returning for another year. "After having directed a short comedy, 'Slop Culture,' last year, the three of us are really excited to use the skills and techniques we previously learned to make this year's play the best it can be," said Babbar.
Maya Peterson '14 is looking towards taking a different path from the comedy route in order to engage the audience in a different way – politics. "It's political and a bit eerie," Peterson said. "I've always been a fan of plays that don't quite click right away when first reading the script … I think that with a lot of hard work, my absolutely terrific cast, I can really push the envelope and make this production into something truly fantastic and thought-provoking."
Naina Sahrawat '14 is also taking a somewhat different approach, directing a play consisting of many short scenes of people on dates. It is also an ambitious production, as there are many more cast members than in most of the other Winterfest shows.
Those plays are just a few of the many that will be a part of Winterfest this year. Over the course of the winter term, directors and casts will devote many hours to preparing for their highly-anticipated performances.
For additional information on all Lawrenceville School news, please contact Lisa M. Gillard Hanson, director of public relations, at firstname.lastname@example.org.