One more time for the home crowd

Jerome Pikor, Tony Alosso, Anna Convery, and Julius Lowe
Cast members, Jerome Pikor (front), Tony Alosso, Anna Convery, and Julius Lowe (back, left to right). Photos by Ralph Stewart

By Molly Martone - May 3, 2007

The high school theatre troupe is home from the Massachusetts festival circuit, with a fistful of awards and a tight homemade play too wonderful to put a lid on. Luckily for us, there will be an encore performance of the play, "Boxes," on May 19.

"Boxes": an original play based on the events of September 11, 2001 and told in Shakespearean language. The play was entered in the Massachusetts High School Drama Guild Festival, a series of competitions culminating in Boston on March 31. "Boxes" was the only original play to make it to the finals. The troupe won awards for ensemble cast, costuming, lighting, and several individual acting awards as well.

Theatre instructor Kate Murray wrote the script after a series of improvisational exercises with her students, and the lovingly drawn characters are based on real people who lost their lives in New York on that day, including a janitor, a businessman, and Ms. Murray's friend, journalist David Rivers.

On a recent visit to the high school, it was easy to see how great work gets done here. The students sprawled on sofas and comfortable chairs, offering suggestions and sharing information about college next year; for many, "Boxes" is their last production as high school students, which gives them a certain confidence onstage, and a sweet world-weariness after they step off it. Their fondness for teacher Kate Murray, and for each other, was obvious.

Julian Reed
Junior Julian Reed sports his "Boxes" shirt.

"Boxes" was trimmed to just under 40 minutes for the competitive circuit, with just a few Mylar-wrapped boxes for set pieces, but its simple production leaves room for big themes. The script is at turns cuttingly clever and heartbreaking as it calls out modern society for its isolation, its weird addiction to packaged news and its political hypocrisy.

The cast members form a box onstage, within which a series of scenes unfold. Senior Adam Clark designed the lighting.

"Lighting is the set for this show - it's just the lighting and the boxes," Ms. Murray said.

Now that shows in Attleboro and Duxbury and Boston are done, the cast seemed eager to perform once more at home.

"It'll be a lot more laid-back, not being timed and not being judged," said Julius Lowe, who plays David Rivers, renamed Davio Riveria in the play.

"We try not to get too relaxed," cautioned Anna Convery, who plays Portia. "It shows when you're too comfortable in your role."

Taking a show over the water demands funds, so a small, devoted cast and crew will also host a silent auction, a raffle, and musical revue while audience members dine. It's all part of BravEncore, a booster group for the Martha's Vineyard Regional High School theatre program.

"Boxes," Saturday, May 19, 6:30 pm, Lola's Beach Road, Oak Bluffs.