The Pioneer Playmakers, Watauga High School’s honors acting troupe, found continued success at the North Carolina Theater Conference’s High School Play Festival last month earning a “Superior” rating for their show “Things Fall (Meanwhile).”
The rating — representing the highest possible honor for a show at the festival — secures a spot for the Playmakers to take their work on to the state competition.
The Playmakers, who are this year under the direction of WHS drama teacher Zach Walker, represent one of two schools chosen from a field of 16 at the regional play festival that will now advance to the state level.
Across North Carolina, 90 schools brought more than 100 productions to regional festivals, 16 of which were chosen to perform at the state show.
The the troupe’s success carries on a hard-won reputation of excellence for the program at Watauga High School. “Things Fall (Meanwhile)” represents the 19th Playmaker production that will go on to the state festival since the troupe was founded in 1988.
From the top down, “Things Fall (Meanwhile)” could be described as a dark comedy — its plot and dialogue certainly support that point — but the show’s most impactful and telling moments are born of its physicality and the unyielding quality of the ensemble work that provides a canvas for the show’s action.
While the characters navigate through a veritable maze of misfortune, the actors onstage often literally do the same, as their blocking drives them through a set that is constantly changing and adapting as the show moves.
Sammy Osmond, WHS Senior and Playmaker said while “Things Fall” is a comedy at its heart, the show also doesn’t shy away from dealing with difficult issues.
“I’ve been amazed that you can pull this show off both as a comedy and a drama,” said Osmond. “At first, it didn’t work like that, but when we started to find the groove, what I came to understand was, it’s all about showing the audience what they can do in a moment. If you welcome them to laugh — then it frees them to have a genuine reaction to what they are seeing. It’s about letting the audience feel what they feel.”
Katelyn Woolard echoed her cast mate’s sentiments.
“This show is about change, and how people handle concepts like grief and guilt. It’s about how they can love and learn to love — it’s about the way that people love and grieve,” said Katelyn Woolard, a senior Playmaker.
“At the end, what we really want the audience to see, is that there are so many different kinds of love. It’s about forgiveness, and how that can grow into love,” added another castmember, Playmaker Sage Souza.
Playmaker Zoa Archer said exploring the essence of a character who experiences the duality of both misfortune and hilarity onstage game from considering genuine reactions.
“It’s a balance playing your character in a way where you aren’t overdoing trying to be funny — you just have to play them how you think a person would react in a certain situation,” Archer said. “Sometimes it comes with the lines, but really, you have to play it genuinely, not just for laughs.”
The Playmakers will host an additional performance of Things Fall (Meanwhile) Monday, Nov. 13 at 7 p.m.. The $10 admission will go towards funding the group’s trip the state theater festival in Greensboro on November 16-17. Individual Playmakers are also selling tickets that will help fund their trip.
The group were awarding the following honors at NCTC:
- Rating: Superior
- Festival Spirit Award
- Barbizon Excellence in Design & Production – Sound/Technical Design, Elizabeth Copenhaver
- Barbizon Outstanding Achievement in Design & Production – Lighting Design & Technical Work, Eve Sigmon
- Excellence in Acting – Sage Souza
- Excellence in Acting – Zoa Archer
- Outstanding Achievement in Ensemble Acting
- Excellence in Directing – Zach Walker
- Distinguished Play (Judges’ Choice)