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‘A Piece of My Heart’ challenges actors

Kayleigh Padar

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The play titled “A Piece of My Heart” ran Feb. 8, 9, 10 in the Black Box. The play was a challenging, nonfiction piece centered around the experiences of nurses deployed in the Vietnam War.

“I thought the show was amazing and conveyed the true story of people who went to Vietnam really well. I was so moved by it when I realized what people had to sacrifice for the war. My favorite part was the amazing acting,” senior Linnea Solak said.

The play was different than most other pro- ductions here due to its serious topic and emotional scenes. “Unlike any other show at Hersey, when I told people to come to see the show, I didn’t necessarily tell them to come to the show to see me, but rather just to hear this amazing story and message,” junior Olivia Cano said.

The play was also different due to the fact all the characters were real people from the past, not fictional characters. “It was different because, as Mr. Marquette told us, it was, ‘presentational theatre’ not ‘representational theatre,’” senior Theo Brown said.

“So we weren’t really trying to get the audience to believe we were these real people in real events, but we wanted to tell them about it and make them feel like they were there.”

Representing characters that were actually real meant that students had to act differently than they would while playing fictional characters. “It’s difficult because you don’t want to get over dramatic because it can become artificial and unbelievable, but if it doesn’t have the amount of intensity and passion that it needs, the story isn’t as compelling or moving,” Brown said.

Since the play was nonfiction, it was especially important to make sure that scenes conveyed the “subtlety” of real life. “There is so much subtlety within the written play itself and also within our acting–since we are playing women who age and change over time, there were so many moments signifying a nod to the character’s past, even things as small as a look or a stance,” senior Emmy Pascual said.

Many aspects of this show were more difficult than previous shows students had participated in previously.

For example, the show’s script involved multiple monologues.  “This show was especially challenging because the lines spoken do not connect to the previous ones. There are also multiple monologues that the cast members have to say,” senior Maggie Muglia said.

The blocking of the show was another more advanced part of the script. “Unlike other plays, we had to memorize 26 numbers for our blocking. It was extremely difficult, and we just had to keep running things in order for us to perform it without thinking about it too much,” Muglia said.

The emotional nature of the show proved challenging for actors. “I think the hardest thing was not crying when other actors would be very moving on the stage. We had to focus and make sure that we didn’t get caught up in the emotion of the show,” Brown said.

To combat these emotions, students came closer together as a cast to support each other. “Since the play is very heavy, the cast had to deal with and process feeling these intense emotions durning runs and rehearsals, which can be draining. However, we would joke around a lot and congratulate each other to keep spirits up,” Pascual said.

The special effects involved in the show, like flashing lights and loud crashes, were another challenge actors had to work through. “Personally I experienced a lot of trouble trying to relax while doing the emergency scenes or the plane crash scene. Those scenes just had so much happening during them, like with the flashing lights and the explosions and people screaming that it was a lot all at once,” Cano said.

Despite the challenges students faced as they took on this new acting project, most feel grateful that they were able to be a part of such a meaningful story. “Doing a show about such an important topic was really what drew me in. I just thought that Vietnam veterans’ stories are so powerful and that I needed to use my love and passion for theatre to tell that story to more people,” Brown said.

Through acting in this play, students were also able to learn more about the Vietnam War. “I gained such respect for people that served in Vietnam, but especially the nurses,” Cano said. “Before this show, I knew absolutely nothing about the Vietnam war, and I actually had to look up a lot of the terminology and the events that happened during the war to fully try to encompass what the character was enduring.”

Students most enjoyed witnessing the audience’s reactions to the heavy topics in the play. “Live theatre is important because it’s the connection between the production team and the audience. Making someone cry or laugh or think outside of their box is important to keep informing, inspiring, and changing our society for the better,” Brown said.

The opportunity to have an impact on audience members was meaningful to the actors involved in the production. “I think my absolute favorite thing is talking with the people who came to the show. Tt’s crazy to see how they interpreted the show and how much it made them feel,” Cano said. “And that’s the point of acting isn’t it? To at least impact one person in the audience and have them walk away with the message you wanted to deliver.”

 

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Kayleigh Padar, Editor-in-Chief, The Correspondent

Senior Kayleigh Padar is an editor-in-chief of The Correspondent and has served on staff since 2015.  She previously served as a news editor, editorial...

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