School News

Performances Selected for Speech Festival

After competing in Cedar Rapids at the Iowa High School Speech Association competition, two of Maharishi School’s entries have been selected to perform at the annual All-State Festival in Ames on February 16. Selected to perform are a one act play, The Elephant Man, and a choral reading performance entitled Dream Song. Of the 43 Maharishi School students that performed at the competition, 20 will perform at the Festival. In addition one of the school’s group improvisational teams was honored by judges as an “Outstanding Performance.”

Being selected to perform at the Festival “is a huge honor and I am very happy for them,” shared Speech Coach and professional actor, Ben Estey. “All of our students, both performing and non-performing should be very proud of the work they've done and I know, are very excited for the upcoming festival.”

The Elephant Man is a 1977 play by Bernard Pomerance. The story is based on the true life story of Joseph Merrick, a severely deformed man who lived during the Victorian era, as told through the accounts of Sir Frederick Treves, a prominent surgeon in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.

As a One Act Play, the play is cut to 35 min and performed with full costuming props, sets and lighting. The cast includes: Laser Nite, Hifza Akber, Girindra Selleck, Brecon Anastasio, Vinit Suganur, Dia Huggins, Alina Knight and Huijin Zhou.

Dream Song is a fifteen minute compilation of poetry, music and movement with amazing costumes. This piece follows the theme of dreams through poems by Neruda and Kipling, rockabilly pop from the 50’s, and modern folk rock. It’s a high energy piece about what it means to “dream with your eyes open.” The Choral Reading category has long been the flagship of the Maharishi School Speech Program.

Cast includes: Brecon Anastasio, Kishan Thijm, Luis Giron, Bryan Prather-Huff, Nathaniel Zhu, Girindra Selleck, Raffi Gelfand, Katya Sheridan, Alina Knight, Sophia Medvedeva, Chosie Titus, Isabel Reed, Chen Xi, Samantha Bell and Gabriella Sleiman.

Performers receiving special accolades for their improvisational performance are: Avery Travis, Mickey DeAngelis, Niko Thiel, Surya Sawhney, .

“I’m very happy with all of our entries this year,” said Estey, “every piece has something special and I have enjoyed watching these young performers come into their own throughout this demanding process.”

In addition to Estey’s great coaching, the teams’ success would not be possible without the work of many. Special thanks to assistant coaches, Jan Thatcher and Brendan Thomas, andimprovisational Coach, Colin Miller. Special thanks to Brandon Hyde for vocal coaching on Musical Theater, Thomas Selleck for movement coaching for Choral Reading, Martha Sperry for set painting and Celeste Siemsen for her helpful insights. Costumes were created by Jan Thatcher, Irene Murphy and Natasha Wolf.

The public is invited to the Theater Cavalcade Performances February 22-24 at Spayde Theater on MUM campus. 

Additional performances are:

The readers theater entry, Boy Meets Girl, is a 1935 comedy by Bella and Samuel Spewack. A pair of unscrupulous Hollywood screenwriters are in need of a good story to save their careers, and they get inspiration from an expecting mother with a mysterious past. A fast paced, quick witted comedy set in the cutthroat world of old Hollywood.

As a readers theater piece, this play is cut to 25 min and performed without costumes, props, or scenery and with the aid of scripts. The cast includes: Keefe Lashway, Niko Thiel, Mickey DeAngelis, Nathaniel Zhu, Kishan Thijm, Donovan Schroeder, Isabel Reed, Jacqueline Leete, Avery Travis, Kadie Roberts, Dia Huggins and Adinda Koopmans.

The ensemble acting entry, Talley's Folly is a 1979 play by American playwright Lanford Wilson, the second in his cycle, The Talley Trilogy between his plays Talley & Son and Fifth of July. Set in an old boathouse near rural Lebanon, Missouri in 1944, it is a romantic drama following the characters Matt Friedman and Sally Talley as they once and for all settle their feelings for each other.

As an ensemble acting piece, this play is cut to 15 min and performed without costumes, props or sets. The cast includes: Bryan Prather-Huff and Hifza Akber

The musical theater entry, Spring Awakening is a rock musical with music by Duncan Sheik and a book and lyrics by Steven Sater. It is based on the controversial German play Spring Awakening (1891) by Frank Wedekind. The original Broadway production won 8 Tony Awards, including Tonys for Best Musical, Direction, Book, Score and Featured Actor. The production also garnered 4 Drama Desk Awards whilst its original cast album received a Grammy Award.

Musical theater consists of a ten minute medley of music and scenes from the play. The cast includes: Samantha Bell, Sam Stickles, Eugenia Davis, Chosie Titus, Michael Corazza, and Solaris Nite

The 9th Grade choral reading is entitled Wild Call. In their first year in the speech program, freshman learn by doing, creating a choral reading performance, a compilation of poetry, music and movement that emphasizes group performance and acting fundamentals. This piece is about young adventurers and includes material by Hank Williams, Lewis Carroll, and Tom Waits. Cast members: Gabe Sperry, Doga Ozesmi, Chandre Morales, Giavanni Cingiri, Marcus Schoenfeld, Phoebe Haerr, Sophia Goodale and Anna Unger

A short film called The Hole, is a five minute silent film based on a Chinese folktale about a bottomless hole. The film was created entirely by students, Leanna Miller, Wei Xi, Olivia Fekete and Eugenia Davis.

There are 2 additional improvisational teams. Group improv is a five minute fully improvised scene based on a provided scene setup. In addition to the team listed above, improv actors are: Raffi Gelfand, Michael Corazza, Keefe Lashaway, Olivia Feketa, Kadie Roberts, Laser Nite, Donovan Schroeder, and Vinit Suganur.

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