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Chadwick School - 26800 S Academy Drive, Palos Verdes Peninsula, CA - (310) 377-1543


Volume 65 Number 2

High praise for Chadwick production of Animal Farm

by David Ding - 2014-12-04

On Thursday November 7th Chadwick’s production team kicked off with their first showing of the fall play production, Animal Farm.

The play was a success in that the judges the California Educational Theatre Association (CETA) sent a judge to rate the show every night gave Animal Farm high ratings. “We received wonderful critical assessments by the three CETA judges who visited our production of Animal Farm over the three nights and many of the cast were awarded the prestigious Certificate of Excellence that recognizes stand out performances by students within the company,” said Nigel Williams, head of the theater department.

A CETA judge commented on the overall performance of the show: “Overall this was a dynamically told story. It was clear that every person involved, on stage and off, understood the strength and universality of this story. Everyone embraced the boldness required to effectively tell it, to take risks, make loud, bold choices and commit to them fully. That is the ‘flying without a net’ kind of art one wants to witness in live theater. Well done everyone, what a wonderful experience, for everyone on stage and in the audience. Truly contagious enthusiasm is created by this production.”

“Getting recognition like this from qualified and expert CETA theater judges really brings value and validation to the work we are trying to achieve here at Chadwick and gets the work and the standard of work our students achieving known to a wider audience and is putting the name of Chadwick out there in the greater Californian community,” said Williams.

The play preparation process for Animal Farm was very different compared to last year’s Crucible production because Animal Farm is a play about animals. In previous years, actors have had to portray humans, but in Animal Farm all of the cast portrayed animals except for four human characters.

“Portraying animals made it harder to visualize what the character would be like because we have to think about how an animal would walk and speak,” Senior Jake Goldstein, who played Napoleon, said. To get an idea on how to portray his pig character, “I looked up YouTube videos on pigs squealing.”

Animal Farm’s plot proved to be challenging to some. Animal Farm represents communist Russia and the show portrays major characters during this time. “Animal Farm also has a lot of historical significance. The characters represent important people in history, Napoleon represents Stalin, Snowball represents Leon Trotsky, and Old Major represents both Karl Marx and Lenin. If you want the meaning the show deserves, we had to embody the feelings of these people,” Junior Jack Johnson, who played Snowball, said.

The play also featured a lot of physical contact. Unlike last year’s Crucible play, actors are shooting guns, engaging in brawls, and throwing around barrels. In Crucible actors focused on memorizing lines, but in Animal Farm the actors had to memorize lines and practice walking and speaking like animals.

“I think preparing for Animal Farm was both understanding the character I was portraying and my relations to the other animals. Most of my lines were concentrated into one monologue. It was getting the words down and finding out what those words meant,” Junior Kyle Civale, who played Old Major, said.

However, actors didn’t have to adjust to these changes themselves. New instructor and drama teacher, David Bloom, entered the production team this year. Bloom assists Williams by focusing on an actor’s individual performance, this allows Williams to have more time to focus on the big picture.

“He doesn’t come in to overpower Williams. He just comes in to help. Williams is the director and creator,” Elijah DeVaughn, who played the raven, said. “Bloom comes in as an analyzer. He helps us find that character and identify who we were to help us understand our characters from their respective perspectives.”

Bloom hasn’t been the only addition to the cast and crew; this year Grant Gorrell has been added to replace retired Rincon. He took the job as the technical director. Gorrell brings a new take on how stage crew and managing should work.

“Rincon was really solid, but I like the new organization and structure that Gorrell brought. He was really good at defining jobs and making sure everyone was on page,” Alex Dean, junior and stage crew member, said.

Both the production team and the cast put in a lot of effort to make the show a success. Most of the cast were on stage for the entirety of the 2-hour show. They had to deal with memorizing their lines, movements, position, and most of all, their nerves.

Students deal with their nerves in many different ways. Most of the cast performs pre-show physical routines.

“Experience helps with nerves. I’d say I was a lot less nervous for this than for Crucible. I jump around a lot and anxiously cluster my hands. Working hard helps prepare for nerves,” Goldstein said.

Different actors have different ways for preparing to go on stage, “I don’t really do what the cast does because it’s too much for me.” DeVaughn said. “I just find a corner and pray and just go up there and do it.”



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Article Keywords:

production, play, animal, farm, ceta, judge, show, cast, williams, stage, everyone, really, work, different, year, crucible, character, played, lot, represent, lines, most, bloom, actor, help, nerves

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