ST. CLAIRSVILLE, Ohio (Feb. 20, 2007) -- Most university theater programs cast in their plays only students who are majoring in theater, or at the very least, the cast members must be students at the university. Rarely, are outsiders brought into a production. However, every production by the theater department at Ohio University's Eastern Campus is open to the community. The upcoming Shakespeare play, "Julius Caesar," breaks the mold even more by casting seven local high school students.
Adam Winland and Veronika Gordeeva from Barnesville High School, Chasdan Mike, Matthew Webster, and Anielle Troyan from Martins Ferry High School, Joseph Hora from Union Local High School, and Megan Casebolt from St. Clairsville High School have parts in the upcoming production. According to Theater Director, Dennis Fox, this is "one of the biggest high school groups we've had on stage and one of the strongest."
Fox said, "[The high school students] are as disciplined and well prepared as their college counterparts with the same amount of experience. They have a good work ethic." Rehearsals are five nights a week, three hours each night. They rehearse for seven weeks before opening the play. For this play, in addition to the six evening performances open to the public, they will perform three matinees for over 500 of their high school peers from eight different schools.
The students have learned to balance rehearsals with school work and help one another. The theater department has a policy that if the students are not on stage rehearsing a scene, they may go backstage or somewhere quiet to work on homework as long as they tell the stage manager or director where they will be. The students are also car pooling to rehearsals and helping each other with their lines.
For six of the students, this is their first appearance on the Eastern Campus stage. Troyan has been in plays at her high school, Oglebay, and in Columbus, Ohio. This is her seventh play. Webster has been in 17 plays between his high school, Towngate Theatre, and the Capital Music Hall. Mike comes to the Ohio University Eastern Campus stage after making 11 appearances between Towngate Theatre and Martins Ferry High School. Hora has been in eight plays around the Ohio Valley.
Mike said, "This experience has broadened me as an actor. I've done a lot of things I hadn't done before." Troyan agreed. She wanted to be in the cast to get experience on a college stage before she actually went off to college next year to major in theater. She said, "I've learned a lot more about technique. I've learned how much time goes into a college play. "
Acting is a new experience for Winland and Gordeeva, both in the eleventh grade. Their high school English teacher told them about the auditions, so Gordeeva decided to try out. She moved to Barnesville, Ohio from St. Petersburg, Russia with her family when she was nine years old. At that time, she spoke little English. In less then a decade, she is on the stage performing Shakespeare. When there was an opening in the cast after auditions, Winland joined. A play is more work than either expected, but they both agreed they would like to be in more plays.
Megan Casebolt is the veteran of the Eastern Campus Theater. This is her seventh play at the university. Casebolt has also run the lights for two plays, been a stage hand for one, was a dog wrangler for one, and was an assistant stage manager for another play. She likes being on stage better than being behind the scenes, but she clarifies that it does depend on which play. "You get to do things that you wouldn't get to do in real life," says Casebolt.
"Julius Caesar" opens to the public March 1-3 and March 8-10. Thursday evening performances begin at 7 p.m. whereas Friday and Saturday performances begin at 8 p.m.