Winterfest: What Goes on Behind the Scenes?

Yee Xin ‘22
One of the things that stood out to me when I was applying to Lawrenceville was Winterfest, mainly because I was interested in the world of theater and had never gotten the chance to be a part of any student-led productions. I wasn’t entirely sure of how the arts festival worked until I was recently cast in a Winterfest play. 

Obviously occuring during the Winter term, Winterfest is a series of short, student-directed plays held in the Kirby Arts Center (KAC) Black Box Theatre. There are so many productions that they are divided over two weekends, each play staged for two nights. Once student directors had their plays chosen and proposals approved, auditions were held. Any student in the Third, Fourth, or Fifth Form, regardless of experience, was welcome to try out. Director of Theatre Mr. [Christopher] Cull worked his magic, and as soon as the cast lists were official, he let the student directors go off to do whatever they deemed necessary to pull off a successful show.

I was cast in a play called “Diversions,” and my director was Fourth Former Zack Finnachio. We had a relatively larger cast with ten students from many backgrounds, so it was a great way to get to know new people through the common goal of putting on a successful show. Rehearsals were very unlike adult-led productions and the creative process felt more collaborative. We did get off track sometimes, but nevertheless we were always productive. The hardest part of Winterfest for me would have to be the line memorization. I had a relatively small role as “Clerk,”but it was hard to keep track of the many short stage entrances and exits I had.  Because everyone gets different directors, plays, and roles, no two Winterfest experiences are ever exactly the same. 

After weeks of rehearsal, it was show time! Not only was I excited to show everyone what we had been working on, but I was also very excited to see the other plays, having no idea what to expect of them. We performed January 31-February1. Since our dress rehearsal ran so smoothly, I knew there was nothing to worry about. The turnout for each night was overwhelming, with members of the Lawrenceville community coming to the KAC as early as 5:30 p.m. a spot in the audience for the 7:00 p.m. show.

“Diversions” was third out of the six plays performed, and before I knew it, we were finished and giving each other silent high fives backstage. I quickly scurried over to the side entrances to peak at the other plays, laughing along with the audience and making way for actors who were entering or exiting. After the last play ends, the song “Celebration” by Kool & The Gang played as actors ran onstage and did their bows. The night ended when the student directors came to stage from the audience and took their bows, too. It was a fantastic experience and I can’t wait for next year!
Through House and Harkness, Lawrenceville challenges a diverse community of promising young people to lead lives of learning, integrity, and high purpose.  Our mission is to inspire the best in each to seek the best for all.