Theater : BravEncore benefit for MVRHS
The Martha's Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS) Drama Department can consider itself one of America's best high school theater groups, as they plan for their August 2010 trip to Scotland to perform at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
The Drama Department, under the direction of Kate Murray, was one of 43 chosen out of 2,500 high school drama groups that applied to perform at Festival Fringe, the world's largest and most prestigious arts festival.
Established in 1947 as an alternative to the Edinburgh International Festival, it takes place in Scotland's capital during three weeks in August. This past August, Fringe 2009 sold close to two million tickets, and gave more than 34,000 performances in 265 venues, with performers from 60 countries.
Ms. Murray, managing director of The Martha's Vineyard Performing Arts Center, and MVRHS drama teacher, is in the process of creating an original piece for the troupe to perform at the 2010 Festival Fringe - "The Secret of the Seven Sisters."
Performing in such a notable venue should not prove daunting to the students, as anyone who attended their performance of "A Christmas Carol, A Christmas Story in One Act" this past Sunday at David Ryan's restaurant in Edgartown can attest.
The Alumni BravÉncore Drama Troupe, along with current drama department members, presented an adaptation of the Dickens classic as a fundraising benefit with all the proceeds going to help support the Drama Department's trip to the Fringe.
As Ebenezer Scrooge, alumnus Jake Estabrook captured the miserly to magnanimous transformation of a man known to eschew all things cheerful. Although each and every performance was outstanding in its own right, Jake's, along with Katie Clarke's, another alum, were stand-outs. A special mention must be given to Ray Ewing's portrayal of Fred.
BravEncore is a not-for-profit organization established in 2006 to fund opportunities within, as well as outside, the school's curriculum. The all-volunteer group is comprised of students, parents, friends, and faculty. Considering the current economic climate, a program such as BravEncore is particularly important for providing possibilities for MVRHS students and programs that might otherwise be unbudgeted. While arts programs are being slashed throughout the country, building community support provides necessary funding. Without it, the high school troupe cannot cover the costs of participating in the Fringe experience in Scotland.
Other upcoming events are being planned to provide assistance in getting the troupe to the festival: a live auction and band event at the Harbor View Hotel in the spring, and a preview of "The Secret of the Seven Sisters," being created specifically for the Fringe Festival.
Ray Whitaker is a freelance writer living in Oak Bluffs.