Godwin theater reinstates staple program

Juniors Adelaide O’ Conner and Davis West at their first one-act rehearsal in Dec.
photo Charlotte Zerbst

For the past several years, the Godwin theater department has been on a steady decline due to priorities for other electives.

With the loss of the department, Godwin no longer offered drama classes for students. Slowly but surely, however, the drama department was revived within the Godwin community, and as of the 2017-2018 school year, it has officially returned with the hiring of Todd Coolidge as the new drama teacher at Godwin.

“It was important to make sure that the class returned to the master schedule given that there are 36 students signed up this year,” said principal Leigh Dunavant.

Coolidge has put on three productions at Godwin so far: “Fools,” “The Addams Family,” and most recently, “The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940.” Coolidge has worked hand-in-hand with Dunavant to further the growth of the drama department within the school.

“It has been great seeing the theater program grow, both as a program and a family. It has been amazing to be part of this development and watch the program expand,” said student director of the fall play, sophomore Maggie Ford.

Coolidge’s newest project is to bring back the one-act plays.

“I wanted to offer more opportunities for students that were interested in theater or even doing technical crew,” said Coolidge, “It [one-acts] also challenges not only the director, but also the actors involved.”

The chosen production this year is “A New York Minute” by Michele Palermo.

“It’s called ‘A New York Minute’ because the plot shows how quickly everything can change in an instant,” said Coolidge.

A one-act is described as a normal play, but instead of two separate acts with an intermission, it only has a single act. The performance usually lasts approximately 30 minutes and has a couple of scenes.

This year’s production, as described on the back of the script, is about a young man named Harry who ends his life in front of the subway.

Later, when his friend Melissa is cleaning out his home, his ghost appears to teach her an important lesson.

“He helps his friend realize that it’s better to live life moment to moment than to plan far ahead in the future,” said Coolidge.

Junior Davis West will play the role of Harry, and junior Adelaide O’Connor will play Melissa.

A group of drama students, including junior Sarah Welch, were put in charge of choosing the production.

“When we read the script, I realized that it would allow the audience to connect to the characters emotionally,” said Welch.

The cast and crew will perform at a theater competition at Glen Allen High School on Jan. 26.

“The competition works very similarly to sports competitions within the VHSL. There are multiple judges who look for certain criteria,” said Coolidge.

The thespians, however, are focused on the experience rather than winning the competition.

“We just want to put up a strong show and not worry about moving onto the next round or placing,” said Coolidge.

“I was really excited that the one acts are coming to Godwin,” said Welch, “We’ve never done them before and our school isn’t really known for our theater program. I think the fact that they’re coming back symbolizes the growth of our school because the theater program is being appreciated more and more.”

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