Theater tours and performs for children


Anna Bea Heise

CRY YOUR HEART OUT: With hand on heart, Jadon Demetri cries out as his character, Toad, is overwhelmed with emotion. Demetri starred in The Wind in the Willows, and his character’s obsession with cars led he and his friends to get into trouble. “I think we had very good comedy,” Demetri said. “Everyone was really good at hitting the jokes, and it seemed pretty clear as to what was going on. I personally think I could’ve picked up lines faster to have less pause in between them.”

Anna Bea Heise, Photo Essay Editor

The Senior Directors showcase their performances by touring at AISD elementary schools

The Bowie Theater Company has been touring their Children’s Shows at AISD elementary schools since 2003. From the beginning, they have been led by senior directors who not only manage the plays, but create packets for the elementary school’s teachers to use while watching. These performances are presented to roughly 1,000 students, as well as any parents or staff who would like to come watch them.

“Senior Directors submit titles to me over the summer,” Drama department chair Betsy Cornwell said. “They have to cut them down to 30 minutes, can’t have audience participation, and have to have a lot of action to hold the attention of the audience. I supervise all of the paperwork: submission, deadlines, costume lists, set needs, and more.”

Cornwell has been the theater teacher and Drama Department Chair since the school was founded in 1988. Cornwell was also made the Fine Arts Department Chair 10 years ago.

“Our company members always talk about how much fun they have performing for the kids,” Cornwell said. “I love watching the reactions of the children.”

The senior directors have almost complete creative control over the Children’s Shows. They are also in control of the audition process, as they have to create descriptions of the characters for students to audition for, create the callback list, cast the official roles, and then direct and block the actors and their performances.

“The audition process was not too bad for me, and it’s honestly really fun getting to see everyone’s auditions,” senior director Mckenna Couch said. “I just had to know what I was looking for in the auditions for different characters, and that helped with my decision making.”

Couch has been involved in theater since middle school, and was a theater officer for her middle school theater class. Couch’s involvement in theater has continued throughout her high school career as well.

“The show I chose is honestly just really silly and fun,” Couch said. “I think I just wanted a show that kids would really enjoy and would be fun for both the actors and the audience.”

The process for becoming a senior director begins prior to the school year, as the chosen directors must also plan for the shows they want to direct. Only a select few get chosen for this role in the theater.

“I actually became invested in senior directing when I was in eighth grade,” senior director Erin Everette said. “One of the Bowie shows came to my middle school and performed. I remember thinking to myself how I wanted to do that, and luckily I was able to.”

Everette is one of the senior directors this year. The show she chose for this performance was called Happily Ever After, and was about an intern wanting to become a fairy godmother who had been unsuccessful in the past.

“My advice to any students who want to become a senior director is that it’s going to be a lot of work,” Everette said. “In the end, that work makes a beautiful result. You have to be willing to put in the work, and you have to lead with kindness as well.”

These shows are different from the other ones put on by the Theater Department as they have to be able to be performed in elementary school auditoriums. They also have to follow certain guidelines given by Cornwell, like not having any audience interaction.

“One challenge that I ran into was figuring out how we would travel with a six-foot contraption that acted as a magic door,” senior director Arianna Ritzie said. “Luckily, we got two amazing schools with wonderful stages, and we used their curtains to make more room for the actors to disappear behind.”

Ritzie first discovered theater in seventh grade at her middle school. She then knew she wanted to become a senior director by her eighth grade year.

“I believe I became involved in theater because of the people,” Ritzie said. “You can express yourself, and everyone involved in theater wouldn’t judge you.”

Despite the obstacles these unique set of shows may have presented for the directors, all directors were able to perform their shows both at Bowie and the elementary schools.

“I think the show went absolutely well,” Everette said. “During the Bowie performances, I was sitting at the back of the theater clutching onto my assistant director’s hand because my actors took my notes and performed a beautiful show the way I had envisioned.”