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Behind the Scenes of Our Theater Stars

Miriam Dijamco | mdijamco20@dtechhs.org | May 28, 2019

Junior Diego Caoili plays Bert in the Spark of Creation Studio production of Mary Poppins Jr. Photo provided by Diego Caoili

When thinking of the theater, the first thing that comes to most people’s minds is usually a large production, such as Broadway. However, that is not all there is to theater, and most people in theater start at an early age, far from the big stages. Here are some of the people at d.tech that are involved in theater.

Senior Jared Almira, who works with Spark of Creation Studio, based in South San Francisco, started doing theater when he was eight. “Channeling yourself into impersonating or being a different person is kind of funny,” he says, when asked what he loves about it. He further explains, saying “If you step into another person and see how they feel and how their life operates, you can understand them.” This train of thought doesn’t just apply to Almira; many people who do theater enjoy theater for being able to be someone else. “When you are sent into this other world…acting is sort of the farther version of that,” says sophomore Dahlia Levy who works with Hillbarn Theatre based in Foster City, “It’s a really amazing feeling.”

Not all people enjoy theater simply for its freedom to escape into being someone else, however. Junior Diego Caoili, who, like Almira, also works with Spark of Creation Studio, says, “Theater is something I like to use as a vent.” He compares it to how others might participate in sports.

Others simply grow to love it for the challenge that it is. Junior Alannah Forster, who works with the Bay Area Educational Theatre Company, or ETC, which is based in San Carlos, says “The challenge of when something goes wrong, and figuring out how to fix it…I love that.”

The theater community is intense, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. “People in theater are…really nice, because [in theater], you’re forced to be very vulnerable,” Forster explains. “I mean, most people don’t come in comfortable performing to a crowd of a couple hundred people.” However, this can change with time, and those who stick to the craft grow to love it. Almira states, “Being a friend of everybody and doing whatever and following a script makes me feel comfortable, because usually I’m an introverted person.”

Even though many rehearsals are spent on perfecting a production, there are always times when things go wrong, and this can make for some unforgettable moments. Levy describes a moment saying, “On stage the lead is supposed to be sort of taken off on this cart…sitting on a pile of boxes. The boxes fell off the cart. And she just toppled over on the stage during a performance and [the audience] started cracking up.”

Sophomore Dahlia Levy dances on stage. Photo provided by Dahlia Levy

There are some things that go behind the scenes for getting into character. Junior Phoebe Baggott, who works with Grab Bag Theater based in Menlo Park, has an example of this. “In Almost Maine, I played a girl who feels super uncomfortable because she runs into her ex and she’s now getting married.” And when getting into character, she says, “The person…who was playing my ex was backstage trying to make me as uncomfortable as possible.” Baggott laughs, saying, “it was just really funny because it looked…like they were hitting on me.”

People can forget their lines from time to time, and that’s just part of the experience. Levy, says, “one time…someone forgot to come on stage, so the person who’s playing my sister and I just had to ad lib that whole scene.” Levy elaborates, saying “It was important that he came on and he didn’t.” They attempted to fill that gap. “We wound up just talking about tripping, and…she’s like, ‘What if I trip?’ And I said, ‘You mean like I do on a daily basis?’…It was a really fun moment.”

Caoili also had a similar experience with forgetting lines. “One time, me and my friend…We were doing a scene together. And my friend forgot his line,” he says. Caoili then started to make up lines to help his friend remember his lines. “That went on for a good like five minutes–just me trying to get him to remember his line.” The irony?  “After that, I forgot my lines,” Caoili admits, and the two spent ten minutes instead of the two minutes it would normally take to finish the scene, just bantering with each other.

Sophomore Joss Ettrick has been in theater for as long as he can remember. He started theater at a young age and “just ended up liking it.” Like Forster, Ettrick also mainly works with ETC. “I’ve done a good bit of roles.” Ettrick states. He started out with relatively minor roles, and worked his way up, where he can now get a main character role if he wanted to. In one of the more recent plays Ettrick was is in, James and the Giant Peach, he crossdressed and played Aunt Spiker and Aunt Sponge in two separate productions. “They were the best shows that I’ve done,” Ettrick declares, “they were absolutely fantastic.” Ettrick elaborates, saying “I really cherish roles where I can be the exact opposite of real life. And honestly, the weirder the character is and the farthest it is from me, the more fun it is to play.”

Forster was part of the same production of James and the Giant Peach with Ettrick. Foster recounts an interesting time backstage before one of the productions where everyone was in a rush to get ready. “One of my friends, a guy friend, ran down the hall in a tight t-shirt, a stuffed bra, short shorts, and heels yelling ‘Where are my stockings!’”

In the past, d.tech has produced a total of one play, a short musical called 21 Chump St, but it stopped there. d.tech offers regular theater classes during the Exploration part of Intersession, but it is not quite a part of the school’s culture. Because of her love for theater, Forster has been trying to get a more frequent theater program running at d.tech. Forster states, “My current project trajectory right now is to start with one show and see where we can go from there.” Her plan? “I have been researching a lot and I found a show by Gilbert and Sullivan called Trial by Jury.” She is hoping to put it on next year.

Whatever the case, one thing is clear; theater gives people an opportunity to express themselves and connect with others. The theater community is very lively, and can make for many memorable moments.

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