Arts & Entertainment

Love Blooms in "Our Town"

Emily and George (Mackenzie Martin and Aidan Murphy) find a connection in "Our Town". Credits: Michaela Pereira
Jim Ligon lights the fire of creativity in Theater II students. Credits: Joseph Mudrak

RAHWAY, NJ - Although still months and a few snowstorms away, Spring is in full bloom in Rahway High School’s theater department thanks to the creative efforts of Theater Director Jensyn Modero. Beginning with her successful production of Thorton Wilder’s “Our Town” which premiered on December 2, 2016 at Hamilton Stage, ‘Ms. Mo’ has fashioned a season of student performances based in great part “on people connecting with other people.” The most recent was her Theater I students’ presentation February 8 of “Check, Please” during Cabaret Night at RHS. Modero boasts that the performance went “better than planned” and that the audience “enthusiastically connected to the contemporary style of the writing.”

‘Ms. Mo’s’ choice of theme is firmly rooted in her belief that “there is a need for people to feel wanted and connected to others in today’s world where technology alienates rather than unites.” Variations on this theme are further explored as she provides her Theater II students, as part of a Spring project, with a special opportunity to design, produce and direct, as well as act in, a trio of plays. Students will display their versatile theatrical talents on May 19 and 20 at 7:00 in a Showcase Performance at RHS when they present abridged versions of  “Steel Magnolias”, “Barefoot In The Park” and “Penguin Tango.” To further support and guide the students in their efforts Mr. Stephen Svoboda, playwright of “Penguin Tango”, has offered to come and work directly with the students on preparing for the world premier high school performance of his play right here in ‘our town’, Rahway.

In preparation for their assuming all the creative roles which comprise the total theatrical experience, students are currently being given the opportunity to challenge their imaginations through the creation of their own original plays. Once again, their teacher has secured the talents of yet another expert in his field, Playwright / Actor / Director Jim Ligon of Writer’s Theater of New Jersey, to assist them in putting their ideas down on paper.  Mr. Ligon has graciously offered his services for a four day ‘residency’ at the high school to work with the students as they essay the role of  playwrights.

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After completing their first two classes under Mr. Ligon’s guidance, students were in agreement that his help was, at the very least, invaluable!  Junior Makenzie Martin affirms, “I’ve learned many essential things in this process with Mr. Ligon that I believe will really prepare me for my career in the future.” Senior Ryan Silva finds that “working with Jim has been an outstanding journey” while  senior Katelyn Perez believes she is getting “quality information about playwriting that one would usually have to wait for college to receive.” Working with the students at RHS proved truly rewarding as well for their mentor Mr. Ligon, especially by “seeing the spark of understanding and the fuel of purpose that ignites their creativity.” He continues, “When we talk about what makes them angry or sad or happy, what moves them, where their curiosity lies, the answers are as unique and individual as they are, and it empowers them to express themselves in ways they’ve not considered before.”

Ms. Modero and her Theater II class proudly invite the entire Rahway community to join them at Hamilton Stage on March 16, 2017 at 7:00 for a staged reading of students’ original plays performed by professional actors!  The love the students have for their craft will be obvious to all who share in the evening’s performance, a perfect complement to this season’s theme!

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