|Mount Greylock Students Stage Wilde Classic for a Cause|
|By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires Staff |
12:25PM / Wednesday, September 06, 2023
|Mount Greylock Regional School seniors Che Guerra, left, and Sylas Velázquez are among a group staging a production of 'The Importance of Being Earnest' to benefit the Trevor Project.|
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Che Guerra's biggest problem with school-based theater programs is that they end when the school year ends.
"The real reason we're doing this is we are obsessed and we were going through theater withdrawal," Guerra said recently.
"This" is a student-led production of Oscar Wilde's "The Importance of Being Earnest" that Guerra is co-directing with fellow Mount Greylock Regional School senior Quin Repetto.
The show will have just one curtain, on Friday, Sept. 8, at 7 p.m.
are $10 for adults, $5 for children, and proceeds benefit The Trevor Project, a suicide prevention and crisis intervention initiative for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning youth.
Guerra and Repetto said they wanted to do a fundraiser that would attract people both inside and outside their school community, and Wilde's 19th-century farce was an obvious choice for a 21st-century cause important to so many in Generation Z.
"[The charity][ ties in with the play," Repetto said. "Oscar Wilde was gay. Also he was jailed for sodomy. Even though he was released, he died shortly thereafter.
"The Trevor Project felt like an important project in relation to that."
"A big theme of the play is the idea of an alternate persona," Guerra said. "While the play was written, Oscar Wilde was doing the same thing. He had a public life where he presented himself to be straight, but, throughout the process, he was seeing a young man."
Guerra and Repetto decided to try their hand at directing shortly after the curtain fell on the school's spring drama, on which Repetto served as assistant director. Although neither has experience helming a production, each is heavily involved with the school theater; Guerra has been in every Mount Greylock production since entering the school in eighth grade.
And they bring some helpful non-theatrical experience as well.
"I've been a dungeon master for Dungeons and Dragons for three years," Guerra said. "This feels very similar. I feel like I was prepared with that."
The pair recruited six other Mount Greylock students to join them for several hours a day throughout summer vacation.
"The Importance of Being Earnest" has nine characters. But fortunately, two are never on stage in the same acts, so it was relatively easy to double cast one member of the company.
As for the double duty performed by Repetto and Guerra, they agreed it is a challenge to be directing and acting simultaneously. But they have some advantages.
"It can be a little tricky," Repetto said. "The good thing is because there are two of us, we can give feedback to each other."
"All of the cast members are very experienced actors," Guerra added. "They've been in a lot of productions, We're put on easy mode directing. Everyone in the cast can more or less figure it out themselves. When we need to, we can direct each other."
With school unavailable through July and August, the company has been figuring things out at the homes of the two directors. Luckily, Guerra's home has a porch that is approximately the size of a stage.
"Tech week," which began on Tuesday is also the first week that the performers are able to get on stage in the school's auditorium.
It also is a big week for the non-actors who are helping bring the production to life.
"We have people working on lights and sound," Repetto said on Aug. 30, the first day of the fall semester at Mount Greylock. "We've had them for a few rehearsals to take notes and stuff. But their time will be the week and a half left."
Guerra and Repetto are looking forward to their final year of high school productions, and Repetto said she already is in line to direct the spring drama. But with college on the horizon, they figure this will be their first and last all-student summer production.
They just hope it isn't the last one at Mount Greylock.
"We have permission to use the auditorium, but the school had nothing to do with it other than that," Guerra said. "That makes it hard to make it a regular thing. But if a group of students is willing to put up everything involved, it's a lot of fun.
"I really hope it happens again. It's my full intention to come back for all the Mount Greylock shows, wherever I go to college."