YOUTH SPOKEN

High school student writes, directs his own play

By Cristin Morgan | Published Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Suicide. Eating disorders. These are not just happening in movies; they are reality. A Decatur High School actor saw this and decided it needed to be recognized. Reality needed to be heard.

Cristin Morgan

Cristin Morgan

“It has a good moral, and it shows you this is going on today and it’s not just in a movie. It’s reality,” junior Jake Anderson said of his play. “That’s why I wrote the script, because things like this happen every day in our world.”

The set made with six ladders lined up on the stage symbolizes each step Anderson takes in this journey.

Step one: Inspired by the movie “To Save a Life,” Anderson writes a play about a boy who is suicidal and a girl who struggles with eating disorders.

“I had no clue what I was getting myself into because it was more of a God thing that told me ‘Hey, you should do this,’ so I went and did it without thinking about it,” Anderson said.

Step two: Start the audition process. Make the schedules and flyers for callbacks, try to get a place to perform and find sponsors, which creates stress.

“In the end, you have that great feeling about it,” Anderson said. “It’s something I love to do so no matter how stressful it is, it’s still going to be fun.”

Making the cast, sophomore Paige Snow and junior Stephanie Micinski auditioned to prepare themselves for the One-Act Play and to see what the play was about.

STUDENT PRODUCTION - Proceeds from the play will be donated to local charities, suicide hotlines and other agencies helping teens.

“I wanted to see what it was like,” Snow said.

Micinski knew it would be good; sophomore Austin Shugart agreed.

“I auditioned because it’s more experience,” Shugart said. “The director has more one-on-one time with us; it helps coming from a student, and it helps me become a better actor.”

In addition to working on the play, Anderson is also involved in soccer, ballet, theatre, choir, school, hosting the Eagle Dolls concert, creating another CD and photography.

Step three: The next step up his ladder is to start rehearsals. From Dec. 6 to Jan. 16, there are one-hour practices after school every day.

“We are going to work our butts off every day,” Anderson said.

With the help of junior Ashley Teague, Anderson knows they can get the job done.

“She helps me out and keeps everything organized,” Anderson said. “She is always prepared. She is amazing.”

Step four: A little higher up on the ladder, Anderson plans where to have the show and financial costs.

“We have sponsors,” Anderson said. “The school is being very generous by even letting us use this building. We will perform hopefully in the theatre and out in a couple of churches.”

Step five: Almost to the top, it’s time for the play to start. Feb. 3, 4 and 5 are the performances. The show is in the high school theatre, times to be announced, and the production will last around 40 minutes.

“Come watch it,” Anderson said. “It’s going to be very heart-ripping.”

Anderson expects his most exciting experience to be during the performance.

“When I am sitting there watching it and watching the actors perform it in front of my first audience is probably going to be the most special time ever,” Anderson said.

Step six: The final step on the ladder is where Anderson’s purpose reaches people, and they hear the message he reveals in the ladder play.

“I want the audience to be more aware with self problems that are going on in the world today,” he said. “It will hopefully open their eyes to things that they never realized.”

Junior Karleigh Norris knows this play will be life-changing. Eleven of the cast members have experienced the situations shown in the play.

“The show hits home in one way or another for all of us,” she said, “whether we experienced it ourselves or know family and friends who have experienced it.”

Anderson’s play inspires his cast members to go out and achieve their dreams.

“It gives me hope about my own script,” senior Sarah Stromberg said. “I haven’t been able to touch it in a while, thinking I wouldn’t finish it. But now I think I can.”

Junior Kelsey Smith agrees with Stromberg.

“I frankly think it’s amazing,” Smith said. “I myself have six unfinished projects. I didn’t think he would honestly go through with it.”

Suicide and eating disorders are only two problems the world struggles with.

“I like the message behind the story,” senior Jason Franke said. “Subjects covered [in this play] are something that isn’t addressed as much as it should be in the world.”

Anderson put this on his bucket list a long time ago. For it to become reality means a lot to him. Anderson hopes to pursue directing in the future.

“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do,” Anderson said. “What I hope I get out of this is that I can prove to myself that no matter what anyone tells you and no matter what anyone says, you can do anything you want to do if you just put your heart into it.”

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