From Something to Nothing: FEST’s Journey to the Stage


Ariel Lucas and Sasha Sears

Hopeful writers and anxious directors repeatedly refresh Twitter feeds as the fluorescent glow of their smartphone screens fall across their eyes. After several months of writing, revising and waiting, the moment has finally arrived. This year’s plays for Falcon Expressions in Student Theatre (FEST) have been chosen, and they are being announced one tweet at a time.
But this is the easy part of the process.
This year is the seventh for FEST at Perry Meridian. Directors are chosen early in May by teachers, Jacqui Sheehan and Stefanie Davis. Student writers dedicate summers to formulating and revising one-act and one-minute plays. One-acts run close to 20 minutes, while the simpler one-minutes last only 60 seconds.
Four one-act plays and ten-one minute plays are picked for production by Sheehan and Davis after they carefully read submissions and deem which are the most fitting.
“We read all the plays separately and then discuss via Facebook Chat which plays we like and which plays we believe have potential,” says Davis. “We need interesting characters and we need a story that matters.”
Once plays are selected and announced, student directors cast their assigned plays at the beginning of the second week of school. The cast lists are posted on the wall between Sheehan and Davis’s classrooms early Friday morning. Student actors huddle around the rosters, their eyes scanning the papers for their name. By the end of August, the student-written, student-directed, student-performed plays are ready to take the stage.
The FEST process begins with choosing potential directors. Davis, former Perry play director of 17 years, tells what it takes to be a good director.
“They must be organized and detailed-minded. They must be willing to bring original thought to the plays they are chosen to direct.”
The directors are required to fill out an extensive application in early May detailing why they would make a good FEST director.
“You just kind of have to sell yourself, and they only pick five out of all the people that apply,” says director, Dominick Heyob, who was selected to direct the series of one-minute shows.
Heyob is among 13 various writers who wrote plays over the summer and submitted them by 11:59 p.m. the night of July 11. Other writers include senior Stephanie Gerrish and junior Kali Adams, who co-wrote The Puppetmaster.
“Co-writing a play is honestly pretty great because you always have a second opinion,” says Gerrish. “There was less pressure to do it all on my own.”
Despite the pros of co-writing, Adams warns communication problems due to busy summer schedules.
“I was on a crunch for time because of plans with my family, summer camps and other things like that. It wasn’t always easy to communicate,” says Adams. “But at the end of the day, it’s worth it. It’s more than just words on a paper. It matters.”
The directors are given the task of taking someone else’s work and putting it on the stage in a way that does the play justice. Director and senior Grace Summers has now written, acted, and directed for FEST during her high school career.
“As a director, getting to spend time with somebody else’s writing, more than anything, is exciting,” says Summers. “When you’re directing, you get to take what you see and show everybody else.”
When asked what her favorite aspect of FEST is, Gerrish has one answer.
“It celebrates creativity. It gives students a voice,” she says.
FEST allows students a creative outlet in the school. It displays the various talents students at Perry hold in the arts department.
“I think FEST is important for the school. It gives students the opportunity to share a voice that they might not have known they even had,” says Summers.
“FEST is incredibly important for the theatre scene at Perry,” adds Davis, the former play director and head of theatre at Perry.
As audience members, there are two opportunities to see this production. The curtains rise for FEST 2018 on August 31 and September 1 at 7:00 p.m. Any and all students are encouraged to come see this Perry tradition, support their peers, and enjoy the show.