On Thursday and Friday, December 9th and 10th, Ukiah High School’s Advanced Drama class performed a newly written one-act called And a Partridge in a Pear Tree written by Tracy Wells, loosely based on the Twelve Days of Christmas. It was performed 2nd-8th periods, teachers were invited to bring their classes, concluding with an evening performance on Friday. Ukiah High News team spoke with the actors about the emotions and preparations leading up to the performances as well as after the performances were over. For a brief summary of the performance check out Katie Williams’s article, “Ukiah High Drama Returns to the Stage with Laughter in their Christmas Play ‘A Partridge in a Pear Tree’”.
Senior Wildcat Miranda Swearengin played the Baker from “11 Pipers Piping” and the First Film Buff from “3 French Hens”. “While reading through the scenes I thought they would be fun to do”, She adds, “I always try to experience new roles and different characters”. When asked which one of her roles were her favorite, Swearengin explains, “it’s like picking between children but probably the film buff because the role was very interesting and a role I don’t typically play”.
Swearengin has been performing since her freshman year and says that although it was a bit nerve-racking, “it felt really good and awesome to perform for people again”. While on stage Swearengin shares that “it’s exhilarating to be able to go out there and be in front of people”. A lot of her time backstage between performances was spent “watching one of our cast members mouth the scenes in an incredibly animated fashion”. She explains that “it feels cool because you get to hang out with other people and listen to the performance happening on stage”.
Kyndra Mussleman-Chalmers has been performing theater and dance since she was 10-years-old but “something felt different this time” she said. Musselman played the Dancer in “9 Ladies Dancing” and the friend in “4 Calling Birds”. She adds that “It was weird performing again but cool at the same time because I haven’t performed for so long”. Her favorite character that she played is “the Dancer because it was really fun playing a kid”. Musselman chose the Dancer “because I like the way she acted”. As for the Friend, Mussleman says, “Ms. Monti just threw me in that role but I liked it”.
“It was a really hard process”, says Musselman. “We had to help with a lot of set changes making sure the stage was set put for each scene’, She adds. Musselman admits that she “knocked over a table during an entrance”. She also says that she “came out during a set change that I wasn’t supposed to.”
Musselman says that before she steps into the lights she is “very nervous”, and she tells herself not to mess up”. Backstage it is “difficult to stay quiet because some of the scenes were hilarious”. Throughout the preparation leading to the performance Mussleman shares that she “wasn’t too confident but I knew we would get it together at some point”. Her favorite part of this experience is “the process of the table reading of the script because it was really fun imagining all the characters”. She adds that “it is very sad not being able to look forward to a performance”.
“Being back on stage was the best feeling in the world”, says Noah Rich, a senior who has been performing since their 7th-grade year. “I had forgotten what it felt like to be backstage waiting to go on for the first scene, when that feeling came back it was like everything I have ever wanted”. Before stepping on stage Rich shares that since they’ve been performing for so long they “never get nervous anymore”.
They say that it feels “like a tingly feeling like, “I’m about to be in front of all these people but when the lights go up it just melts away”. It’s really hard not to laugh while backstage”, Rich confesses, “you hear them deliver their lines in a new way every single time so each time it feels like a new joke, it’s very entertaining.” “It feels like nothing else in the world is really happening”, Rich explains everything is the performance and the performance is the only state of being you’ve ever been in”.
Rich played the roles of the Drummer in “12 Drummers Drumming” and the Spouse in “Six Geese A-Laying”. Their favorite role was the Drummer because “it had a lot more creativity and freedom”. “I didn’t really care what role I got”, Rich mentions, “so Ms. Monti chose the characters that would best fit my acting style”. Rich says, leading up to the first performance the actors “were all pretty stressed”. “we didn’t full dress rehearsal until the opening night”, they disclose, “but we pulled through and did great in the end”. One of their most memorable moment from the who production was “painting the set and getting to know everyone while doing it”.
To many people’s surprise these Wildcats all said that the hardest part of this production was “having to memorize lines”. They say “getting closer with classmates” was the most memorable part of the experience. But most importantly all agree that “If you’ve been thinking about joining drama: DO IT. It’s really fun and you learn a lot of not only acting techniques but also life skills get to make a lot of really great friends and you get to bond with people in the class”.