GREENVILLE – Greenville Junior High Theatre Workshop presented its 32nd production, Disney’s “Peter Pan Jr.” Friday and Saturday night, at St. Clair Memorial Hall.
The Workshop organization is comprised of about 40 seventh and eighth-grade students attending Greenville Middle, St. Mary’s and Montessori schools, in Greenville, under the leadership of Adviser Kari Lemon. According to Lemon, the Workshop performs one show this time of year, in order to keep students available for sports.
“This is an extracurricular activity, so the students work after school to get the lines memorized, the songs prepared, and to work on the set,” she said. “We have singing, dancing, sound, lights, makeup, costumes – they run the whole thing.”
Some adults monitored the students with set design, lighting and sound, but Lemon was the primary force in getting the students prepared.
“They work together to get it to production time,” she said. “I love watching their faces light up when they finally see it all come together.”
The students practiced every day after school for about one to two hours, Lemon said. But as time progressed closer to the performance, weekend practices were essential.
“It’s a wonderful program,” she said. “It’s teaching them people skills, as they have to communicate with one – another and it’s getting them into performance components. They are making themselves very vulnerable by going onto a stage and working on speaking skills.”
Jeremy Knight is part of the Stage Crew. He handles sets, props and costumes.
“I want to be back stage,” he said. “Some people can’t do this because because some of this stuff is heavy. I like carrying and moving stuff.”
Gwen Louk plays “Murphy” and “Chief Tiger Bamboo”. She also works backstage, helping people rehearse lines and teaching them dances. She goes to Do It Yourself (DIY) Network on YouTube to learn how to do each character’s make-up.
“I think all of us can say from where we first started, it has been a real adventure getting here,” she said. “Some of us are crazy shy.”
Olivia York said sometimes drama, off-stage, gets out of hand, with the talking and crying.
“You have to know how to handle the situation,” she said.
Sara Flippo and Emma Tutwiler play the “Raccoon Twins”. They have to say their lines at the same time, which can be challenging, Tutwiler said. They have to look at each other and take cues.
“It is fun, because you get close to the people you work with,” Tutwiler said. “You get to know them even better.”
“We just love it,” Flippo added. “Theater is like a family to us. My cousin went to college for acting and I want to follow in her footsteps.”
While the workshop gets some funding through the school, most of it is raised through the ticket sales and the Workshop’s Patron Program, Lemon said.
“We send letters to businesses throughout the county, asking if they wish to donate to the Theatre Workshop Program,” she said. “It is utilized for future production items, such as sets, scripts, or music.”
While funding is essential, the most valuable part of the Workshop, according to Lemon, is that it gives students who are not involved in sports, choir or band, an opportunity to do something in public.
“They are learning skills, now, that they will use later in life,” she said. “That is why I love watching them do this.”
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