A Commentary on BHSEC’s Latest Weird but Cool Theatre Production

Fiona Brackley, ’17

It’s time for a review on the new addition to “BHSEC’s Weird but Cool Productions” list: Ms. Anna Dolan and the Year 1 and Year 2’s interpretation of Franz Kafka’s The Trial! The show had three performances in mid-­January, all heavily attended, and was deemed totally and exceptionally “out of the box” for BHSEC. The production was a gender-­bent, a wild spin on a classic that delved right into craziness and ingenuity, taking the audience right with it. The production was directed by our fabulous theatre extraordinaire and seminar teacher Anna Dolan, co­-directed by Year 2s Matt Antezzo and Emma Morgan­Bennett, and technologically and auditorially ehanced by Y2s Matt Antezzo, Vincenz Eckl and Amory Benjamin, and Y1 Lily O’Donnell. The cast was a good mixture of both Year 1s and Year 2s.

Kafka’s classic tells the story of a man named Josef K (or in our case, a woman named Jojo K) who is arrested one morning without having done anything wrong. The plot follows his year-­long journey with corrupt government officials, a system in which one cannot never get answers, floggings, old lawyers and beautiful women. The story culminates in his stabbing and untimely death at the end of the play. The production stayed true to the plot, but in typical BHSEC fashion, the limits were tested and stretched. Jojo K, played by Year 2 Mason Leist, was written as Josef K in Kafka’s version, leather­-clad Year 1 Jack Zadroga whipped Year 2s Nathan Shapiro and Willis Cruz, and Year 2s Emma Morgan­Bennett and Mason Leist shared an intimate moment together. The production’s plot was twisting and confusing, interesting and hilarious, but ultimately makes a timely commentary on today’s justice and law system and details the life of a lost, lusting, and livid individual stuck within it through a bunch of high school kids in trench coats and glasses.

The cast, an even mixture of Year 1s and Year 2s, had a great vibe and an excellent flow. The cast had a wonderful chemistry, and all became friends and bonded spectacularly during the late night rehearsals and the frequent amount of times they all saw each other during the day. BHSEC students transformed into their roles through quick costume changes and dedication to making this production a good one, along with the caring and supportive instruction from Ms. Anna Dolan. She allowed the cast and the play to be molded by the personalities and interpretations each student gave to their multiple roles, and she allowed for the birth of a beautiful but wacky play, made possible by the coexisting of both student and professor.

The play was extremely well recieved by BHSEC students, parents, and faculty. The house was nearly full at 6 pm on Tuesday the 12th, and actually needed extra chairs for the Wednesday the 13th Dean’s Hour performance and the Thursday the 14th’s 3:30pm performance. Many students came to support their peers, teachers came to see one of their favorite books in action, the entire Ultimate Frisbee team came to support Nathan Shapiro, Y2, sans shirt, and Year 2s came because it was mandatory.

Many students and teachers who came to see the show were pleasantly surprised that it was as great as it was. Kashanti Keise, Y1, said “No offense, I didn’t think it was going to be that [fire emoji].” Paloma Lopez, Y1, commented, “It was lit. I thought the energy was so good and what’s great is that without unpacking the narrative in The Trial to the extent that I imagine goes down in Year 2 Seminar, I think the audience was able to get a perfect sense of the feeling behind the term “Kafka­-esque,” which can be hard to describe, but crazy to experience.” Year 2 Triston Tolentino, who played Titorelli in the production, also spoke on the play’s relationship to Year 2 Seminars and how it affects the reading of The Trial for him: “Because we had to condense all of the action into an hour we had to really turn up the intensity. But Kafka’s Trial takes place over a year, so all the action emotion and urgency is there, just not as intense, which kind of makes the reading dull.” Watch out, Seminar teachers­ – you’re making Kafka dull! Mr. Vartorella, the beloved and mysterious BHSEC professor, found the show extremely spot­-on, capturing the essence of Kafka and this novel perfectly.

Further, some students were surprised to see such a large audience, and were surprised to find how connected BHSEC became during the play. Ella Ezratty, Y1, said she is “..always super proud of Bard when it comes to these shows because we never really have school spirit, but I always feel like it comes alive when there are performances! It’s so nice too see so much talent from people I would have never expected to be actors/actresse,s and everyone gets really excited about it. I wish we had more stuff like this going on in school, it brings such a great sense of community!” The topic of school spirit is a valid one, for BHSEC’s is abysmal. The attendance at sports games is apalling, any thought of a spirit week brings sighs and eye rolls, and BHSEC students generally seem to hate one another. That being said, last fall’s production of The Trial brought a glimmer of spirit and sparkle into the hearts of BHSEC students, as student and student became connected as actor and audience, bringing laughs, sobs, and whoops and cheers for their friends in old lady fat suits or had hands painted onto their naked chests, bringing together the rather separated BHSEC population through art in an impressive feat of spirit, if only for just 45 minutes.

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