Cheney Free Press -

By JOHN McCALLUM
Editor 

Exhibiting 'Appropriate Audience Behavior'

Westwood Middle School comedy demonstrates how to act by using bad examples

 

December 7, 2017

John McCallum

Left, Carol (Sophia Watkins) tries to mask her irritation as Cathy (Taylor Cook) texts during a production of "Hamlet."

Sometimes the best way to get a point across is to do exactly the opposite of what you intend to say.

Such is the premise of Westwood Middle School's first drama production "Appropriate Audience Behavior." The 25–35 minute comedy by playwright Ian McWelthy follows the trials of Carol and Ashley, two women who attend a production of Shakespeare's "Hamlet" expecting to see a tale of woe but instead, experience their own tragedy by having to sit next to some of the "world's noisiest weirdos."

It was this aspect of McWelthy's one-act play that attracted Westwood drama instructors Robin Miller and Dan White to purchase the script from the online site Playscripts. The title is "tongue in cheek" and the production features two main characters together with an ensemble cast, Miller said.

"Little vignettes that go quickly that I think will hold kids attention," she added. "But maybe it will make kids and others think about how we act when in public."

Indeed, it is the audience that steals the show, a gathering of irritating individuals that includes a woman texting on her cellphone, a man obsessed about cough drops and another who watches the production like he would a football game. According to Playscripts, the 25-35 minute comedy reminds viewers "where the drama belongs - onstage."

John McCallum

Jason Hatfield complains about what his taxes do and don't pay for to a reluctant listener in Ashley (Laney Schulz) in scenes from Westwood Middle School's "Appropriate Audience Behavior."

It's the first year of doing drama at Westwood for Miller and White, and the duo selected "Appropriate Audience Behavior" because of its modern themes that differ from previous productions that are more "fairy tale stuff" in nature. It's a topic people of all ages can identify with, and the cast takes on the challenge of showing viewers how to act by doing exactly the opposite.

"I think the kids have embraced this really well," Miller said.

It truly is an ensemble cast, with 46 students turning out, 28 of whom are on stage. Miller said the rest fill in key backstage roles that no production can be without if it wants to be successful such as lights, sound, props and costumes.

"Appropriate Audience Behavior" will be presented to the public on Thursday, Dec. 14, at 7 p.m. at Westwood's Commons. The cast will do two shows for the student body on Friday, Dec. 15, beginning around 1:30 p.m. All performances are free.

Miller said they will also be selling concessions at the Thursday show as a fundraiser for a Westwood and Cheney Middle School trip to Washington D.C. in late March of next year.

John McCallum can be reached at jmac@cheneyfreepress.com.

 

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