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Sandy Journal

Waterford students duel with drama: ‘The Three Musketeers’ and ‘King Lear’

Oct 12, 2023 01:52PM ● By Julie Slama

It’s a tale of a brother and sister who set off for Paris in search of adventure. The brother hopes to join the king’s musketeers while the sister is sent to convent school. She quickly decides that’s not for her; she’d rather fight by her brother’s side.

It’s an account of heroism, treason, close escapes and honor.

“The Three Musketeers” will be performed by Waterford middle school students this October.

Directed by Riya Sahasrabudhe, 20 sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade students make up the cast of the classic story. The show will be performed at 7 p.m., Oct. 13-14 as well as at 3 p.m., Oct. 14 in the black box theatre in the Heuston Center for Performing Arts on the Waterford campus, 1480 E. 9800 South.

“They’re learning from a fight choreographer how to have sword fights for the play, so it should be a fun adventure,” said Waterford theatre director Javen Tanner. “Their swords are made for stage combat, but they look cool.”

Assisting Sahasrabudhe will be students who are on the stage management team, which she started on campus. It’s a program that allows students to be able to run the sound, lights and props on several shows during their schooling at Waterford.

Similarly, high school kids who are in stage management will help with the upper school’s production of “King Lear,” which Tanner will direct.

“‘King Lear’ is our annual Shakespeare production and some students performing read it with me last year in our Shakespeare class so they really were excited about it,” he said. “When I announced that we were going to do it, it was quite a stir. Everybody’s excited to tackle such a such a mountain of a play.”

The play will be at 7 p.m., Nov. 10-11 and again at 3 p.m., Nov. 11 in the Heuston Center for Performing Arts.

Tanner said he picked “King Lear” after deciding which play would work best for his students.

“I felt that I had a group who would work well within the characters and were dedicated enough to pull it off,” he said. “It’s widely debated which is his greatest play—‘Hamlet’ or ‘King Lear.’ It was a well-known story in Shakespeare’s time, but it had a happy ending. Then he took that, and he turned it into one of the greatest tragedies ever written. The (Columbia University) scholar James Shapiro suggests that King Lear was only performed once in Shakespeare’s lifetime because people were so shocked he had turned it into this tragedy. It wasn’t performed the way it was written again for hundreds of years. In his verse, Lear cares deeply about the human experience and how difficult that can be. Shakespeare gives these incredible images…and it brings this sometimes very austere, stark coldness of the human experience. It’s delivered with both incredible language and with vivid images on stage.”

Tanner hopes that both the audience and 24 student-actors are able to feel what Shakespeare portrays.

“It’s just bleak, bleak, bleak, and it just seems to get more and more bleak as the play progresses. Then you have this moment of astonishing forgiveness and redemption amid that. It’s truly incredible. I don’t care that the kids or the audience goes out with some maxim about how to live your life or how to be a good person. That’s what that theater does. What I’m interested in is that in those moments, dark moments, they feel the dark moments. And in that moment of redemption, they feel deeply that moment of redemption, and how powerful it is. I’m interested in what’s happening in your heart,” he said.

The play is recommended for high school age and up.

In his 18 years at Waterford, Tanner has directed 16 different Shakespeare plays.

“It’s been pretty fun. We did ‘Romeo and Juliet’ last year. That was the first time I’ve ever directed,” he said. “I really look forward to doing ‘Richard II’ at some point. I still haven’t done ‘Henry V,’ which I would love to do or ‘Henry IV, Part 2.’” λ