link Anna George: Staff correspondent
Sarah Durand, left, and Ryann Privett discuss the suspected murderer in “Trifles.” Privett and Durand worked together as doo-op girls last year in the Portales High School theater department’s production of “Little Shop of Horrors.”
On Sept. 14, a tight knit group of student actors at Portales High School began rehearsals for production of two one-act plays. And four weeks into those rehearsals, director Bill Strong said they are really pulling the plays together.
“The kids have their characters well-developed and are almost off script,” Strong said.
The Portales High School drama department is performing “Trifles” by Susan Glaspell, a murder mystery and “Cry of Crows” by James Lee Bray, the tale of girl whose life is ruined by gossip.
They will be performing 7 p.m. Nov. 1 and 2 p.m. Nov. 2.
Admission is $5.
The heroines of “Trifles” will be played by Ryann Privett, 16, and Sarah Durand, 16, while the leads in “Cry of Crows” will be taken over by Cherena Holland, 16, and Nathan Gandara, 17. Gandara is the only seasoned actor of the group; the three actresses have played only minor characters in the past.
Strong said that the majority of his seasoned actors graduated with the 2014 class so now he is getting to watch actors and actresses jump into stardom.
“It's just the natural progression of theater,” he said. “Where the chorus member becomes the star.”
Strong said is also seeing more freshman and new students in the drama department.
Freshman Liam Hurley is playing the role of sheriff in “Trifles.” He played a small role in the ensemble during 2013's “The Music Man” but has no further stage experience, though he wants some.
“I like pretending I'm someone else,” said Hurley.
He said that he has always been interested in Portales’ dramatic world and always sees their productions.
Such was not possible for Malin Barnes, who moved from San Antonio, Texas. Barnes has been in several theater troupes because his military family moves around a lot but, he said, Portales is pleasantly close knit and haphazard.
“We all love what we're doing so we can get along,” he said.
That love for theater has led to the Portales theater troupe taking new measures to make this performance the best yet. They have done several character strengthening exercises, including pretending to be their characters while attending an ice cream social or speed dating.
“We don't look at our characters in the context of this one play anymore,” Durand said. They see their characters as real people so they can better connect with their character, she said.