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Middle School Produces Original Play, ‘Café Catastrophe’

There were no scripted lines or stage directions as Middle School drama students began preparing production for their Winter Musical. Over the course of 10 weeks, 25 students worked intensely to write and stage their very own play, “Café Catastrophe.” View photos.
Filled with elaborate dance numbers and handmade sets, the play entertained the school community during evening and daytime performances on Feb. 12 and 13.

In the play, two high school girls, Hannah and Phoebe, deal with popularity and jealousy. It’s a story about the challenges of friendship and the role of social media in young people’s lives.  While the main plot takes place on stage, a subplot took place on the floor. Students practiced their improvisational skills during flashbacks and school newspaper club scenes.

Writing a script collaboratively was not an easy task. The students engaged in several weeks of brainstorming and flow-charting, and filled entire white boards with ideas.
 
“It wasn’t good enough to have an idea,” said sixth-grader Julia Coniglio, a writer. “We had to develop them so the story was believable. The audience should be able to sympathize with the characters.”
 
The play represented themes that were important to the students. “We wanted to share a lesson,” said Julia. “Social media really can really affect your life but it doesn’t have to be that way.”
 
“In addition to crafting a story, the students had to learn how to work together in a productive and enjoyable way,” said Faculty Advisor Jake Alrich. “Teamwork, creativity and time management were key.”
 
In addition to writers and actors, students were the stage runners, costume designers and lighting crew.
 
For cast members sixth grader Celia Balliotti, the play was an incredible bonding experience.  “Everybody had an important role in the success of the play. Everyone chipped in. We were a drama family.”
 
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