A group of nine teens stayed past dinnertime to rehearse in the drama room. They ran lines again, still laughing at all the cheesy jokes, and each person was doing his or her best to remember what they need to say, do and act like. This was the life of the RBHS Acting Troupe, drama teacher and sponsor Holly Kerns dubbed The Upstagers.
“The idea [of the troupe] is that they develop material which we keep ready through the year. Prepping a play for months and then only performing it a few times can feel like spinning wheels, so the idea with the troupe is to keep a group ready to perform anytime, anywhere,” Kerns said. “We wanted to be able to go into schools and public spaces to perform a ‘rough and ready’ show, meaning the show can be anywhere.”
This year is the first year a group like this at RBHS, Kerns said. The members auditioned last spring and started practices during the summer to get organized.
“I wanted to be more involved in the theater program at RBHS, but I couldn’t fit [an acting] class into my schedule so the troupe seemed like the perfect way to get involved…,” junior Lucy Beattie said. “It can be difficult to balance school and the troupe, but if you work hard, it’s not a problem to balance it and school… [Because] others in the troupe are some of my closest friends it’s so much fun to get to perform with them.”
For junior Ashley Livingston, the closeness of the group is the best part of her experience. Working with the same team for a year on creating personal productions from scripts they were passionate about, Livingston said, made them grow close to each other.
“My favorite part [of being in the troupe] is the friends because we’re so tight knit, and most people are also in Advanced Acting [class], so we’re basically a family,” Livingston said. “I also like the performances, of course. We get to do cool different [productions] such as Bamboozled, [which is] a commedia dell’arte style, one act play. It’s a comedy with characters based off stock characters.”
The Upstagers’ most recent performance took place in RBHS Friday, March 9. They called the performance the One Act Festival, where they performed two one acts. They hope to continue showing their work off to the community and spread the excitement of live theatre.
“As a troupe, we meet regularly. This has been hard to make happen through the process of doing Peter Pan, just because a lot of troupe people were involved, but we have managed to stage two One Acts for the One Act Festival, despite busy times. We try to keep adding to the repertoire while also keeping old work alive,” Kerns said. “I think the plans for the future simply include keeping the troupe going. We are still getting established, so continuity is the thing.”