Battle Ground High School drama students return to the stage with original play – ClarkCountyToday.com


The theater club hosted three shows at The Lair inside Battle Ground High School last Thursday, Friday and Saturday, entertaining a total of 160 people.

For the first time in over a year, Battle Ground High School Drama Club returned to the stage last week with the words, “Hello, my name is Edward Deadman and I am dead.”

Avarie Rhyasen and Maria Wetzbarger, drama students at Battle Ground High School, perform in John R. Carroll’s “Oh, What a Tangled Web”. Photo courtesy of the Battle Ground School District

So begins an original sketch written by senior Andrew Ovall of Battle Ground High School and junior Lorelei Hunsaker. The simply named “A Radio Play” reads like an Old Time Radio-era mystery murder mystery, with quick jokes and witty puns.

“A few moments ago I was dancing with a few friends in my ballroom and as I went along I died,” Ovall reads on stage as the recently deceased Deadman. “Pick ice cream in the neck. We’ve all been there.”

The theater club hosted three shows at The Lair inside Battle Ground High School last Thursday, Friday and Saturday, entertaining a total of 160 people.

“Getting back into the theatrical space has been a life affirming,” drama teacher and director Stephan “Cash” Henry said. “It was so wonderful to once again share a collective and creative experience with a live audience, in person, to be together, to share laughter, to share life.”

Ovall and Hunsaker’s original play took about a month to write, but much longer to finally perform in front of a live audience after schools were closed by the pandemic last year. “It was a huge relief for me to know it was there,” Ovall said after the final rehearsal. “We are doing it.”

The elder was due to appear in a stage version of Romeo and Juliet last March when school buildings were closed and learning became distant due to the pandemic. Hunsaker was also part of this production. “It was tough for me because a lot of the seniors didn’t get their go and we had a star cast. But that’s in the past. I can’t wallow in it or I’ll never stop suffering.

Andrew Ovall (center) of Battle Ground High School reads part of an original play he co-wrote with junior Lorelei Hunsaker.  Photo courtesy of the Battle Ground School District
Andrew Ovall (center) of Battle Ground High School reads part of an original play he co-wrote with junior Lorelei Hunsaker. Photo courtesy of the Battle Ground School District

Henry said he was heartbroken for last year’s seniors when that room was closed. “The students have shown me such maturity and resilience this year,” he said. “We’ve had Zoom Play readings and been able to connect remotely throughout the year, but it’s just not the same as working together in person.”

Henry said after the state eased restrictions on youth sports, he felt the new guidelines were not in line with all activities. “I started writing letters and calling the arts department of the Office of the Superintendent of Public Education,” he said. A few weeks later, the state updated its guidelines and the drama club was able to hold auditions and start preparing for their first shows in over a year.

In addition to the original Ovall and Hunsaker play, the theater club also staged a theatrical production of “Oh, What a Tangled Web” by John R. Carroll, which involves yet another misunderstanding about a death; only this one is imaginary rather than real.

Ovall says it’s “unbelievably bittersweet” to end his time on stage as a student at Battle Ground High School. “I’m so sad to be leaving,” he said, “I love this place.”

Hunsaker and Ovall said they hope they can flesh out their piece a bit more, and perhaps expand it into a stage production with props and costumes. Until then, they hope their own experience over the past year will help future actors appreciate the time they have spent in the nourishing confines of high school. “Four years seems like a long time at first, but it really isn’t,” Ovall said. “Just take what you have and make the most of it.”

Information provided by the Battle Ground School District.


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