Tim Leeds Havre Daily News firstname.lastname@example.org
The Havre High School drama department is trying something new this week, bringing a unique play to the stage in a different kind of presentation. Director Jay Pyette said the audience will watch the high school’s production of Jean Anouilh's “The Lark” right from the stage, with seating built around the acting area. “This is arena theater ,” Pyette said. “It will be a different experience for the audience.” The play itself centers around the trial of the Frenchwoman Joan of Arc, who led the French in a war against the English and their French supporters in the 1400s. Joan, later proclaimed a saint, helped The Dauphin the heir apparent to the French throne become King Charles VII of France. Later she was captured by supporters of the English in France and was put on trial for heresy, convicted and burned at the stake. Pyette said the play also takes a different approach in telling the story of Joan of Arc, whose conviction later was overturned and who is one of the patron saints of France. “It is not the story of her life but her trial,” Pyette said, adding that during the trial there are many flashbacks that show what happened to her. The production of the play lets the audience experience the flashbacks as they occur Pyette said the actors assume new roles to act in those segments in front of the audience. “They see the actors go from one character to another,” he said. Pyette said the 14 actors in the play assume a total of 35 roles throughout the production. Deciding to use the arena-theater style gave a new opportunity for the students, he said. “One thing we have to remember is this is an educational theater and This is a totally new experience for my actors,” he said. The set, including the seating, was built by Pyette’s stagecraft class. It offers 220 seats on the stage. No seating will be used in the main audience area of the auditorium. The cast includes a mix of Havre High veteran actors and newcomers. Megan Quintero as Joan of Arc; Colton Wedding as the Eng l ish Earl of Warwick; Jake Palmer as Cauchon, the French bishop who set up the trial; Johnathan Borrego as The Promoter; Alyssa Bosch as The Inquisitor; William Milligan as Brother Ladvenu; Samuel Curtis as Char les, The Dauphin of France; and as members of the court, Sawyer White, Sabrina Robertson, Carson Pollington, La r i s s a Pr i c e, Co u r tney Crawford, Brianna Fox and Kaity McKnight. Pyette said the mixture of experienced and new actors has made working with arena theater interesting for those without much stage experience, adapting to the style was easy. For experienced actors, it took some extra work. Arena theater, where the actors are surrounded by the audience, takes some different techniques. Much of what is taught for traditional theater has to be done differently, such as how to face the audience, how to move on stage and so on. “We’ve been breaking some of the habits I had taught the actors on a traditional stage,” he said. The cast has adapted well to the play and the style, Pyette added. “It’s been a challenge for them, but I think they have really enjoyed it,” he said. The play runs Thursday through Saturday at the Havre High School Auditorium, with the doors opening at 7 p.m. and the production starting at 7:30 p.m. each night. Cost for admission is $4 for adults, $3 for students and seniors and $2 for children from kindergarten through eighth-grade.