By Nabi Dressler
One of two fall plays, “Exhibit This!,” began with a performance on Thursday night and another Friday night. I attended the Friday show after buying my ticket off of my friend’s little sister (which I still feel guilty about) since it sold out; in fact, every show has sold out, and, in my opinion, with good reason.
“Exhibit This!” The entire audience began in the theater; eventually, we got split up into two groups. My group went to the gallery in the community room first, and then the cafeteria (vice versa for the second group). Admittedly, before the show, I was concerned about how this interactive part of the play would pan out, thinking it’d be a jumble of people wandering amuck in the commons, drawing away from the focus on the play, but this wasn’t the case; it was well-organized with the help of numerous cast members and the moving around didn’t distract the audience from the play itself.
“The first day, people weren’t used to [moving around],” sophomore Bridget Jasinski, who played a part of the Greenery tapestry, said. “They didn’t know what to expect from it, but I feel like people slowly started to understand the idea that we’re doing something new and different.”
Different, indeed, and enjoyably so. Getting to see a play that wasn’t exclusively on one stage was refreshing. The cast and crew really did a good job of making the community room and the cafeteria feel like Art Institute-worthy wings, but with much more vibrant security guards.
According to Jasinski, for a normal play, the moving around would just disrupt the show. Sophomore Laura Gonyon, who plays Salvator Rosa’s self-portrait, agrees that she didn’t immediately understand the concept of moving around, but now she gets it.
Museum director Jeremy Morton wanted the play to channel an art museum, with different feels in each room. The foyer even featured student artwork, which was available to purchase or bid on (whomever made the painting that said “I am horse,” you are fantastic).
Freshman Joe Doner played King Ra and was in the cafeteria, so he got to see bits and pieces of other scenes in the other rooms, but the only scenes he got to see completely were the ones in the cafeteria.
Since he’s a freshman, Doner wasn’t expecting to get such a prominent role, and was very happy about it.
“I didn’t expect to get something this good,” Doner said. “I expected to be, like, a bush.”
Doner, like everyone involved with the production, invested many hours.
“[To memorize lines], you just cram,” Doner said. “It’s like studying for a test that you haven’t studied for until the day of… You read it over and over and over and over again until you get it.”
To manage both the play and his academics, Doner stays up really late, something anyone in an extracurricular can attest to, right? Gonyon thinks the play is worth all of it.
During the show itself, Morton embodies multitasking.
“I’m everywhere,” Morton said. “I’m running backstage. I’m out in the audience watching and laughing and clapping. I’m running out making sure that everything’s OK with the art gallery, so I’m producing [“Exhibit This!”] at that moment, making sure that everything happens.”
I never would’ve guessed this because everyone from actors to greeters were super calm and welcoming and made me scold myself for not attending more productions in years past. Everything was under control, and that made me feel comfortable as a member of the audience.
According to Doner, Friday’s show went better, with the audience laughing more at actors’ jokes. He also credits the improvement to acting performance.
“[After the first show,] we’ve thought more about our roles and how to get people to laugh and enjoy themselves,” Doner said.
“[The actors] get more experience with an audience,” Morton said. “The audiences can dictate rhythms. If there’s laughter, if there’s no laughter, it’s hard as an actor to anticipate that, so once they have experience with the audience and transitions of clapping and laughing, they get more comfortable… Tonight was a little bit stronger because they were anticipating that rhythm.”
Doner, Gonyon and Jasinski all want to be in as many productions as they can throughout high school, and I think that motivation showed during Friday’s play. Theater made “Exhibit This!” a fun, audience-friendly performance, and dissolved my worries about a messy play.
Oh, and it’s hilarious. These actors are really darn funny. Paintings flirt with each other and with their creators. Paintings argue. Security guards vent their life problems by associating their stresses with famous works of art, proving that even some of the greatest artworks in history are still relatable.
“[Everyone involved with “Exhibit This!”] did a really good job recreating this experience for PHS community that may or may not ever happen again, and so I’m really glad we’re sold out every performance, so those who were able to see it got to see probably a one and only experience at Prospect,” Morton said.
The last performance is Saturday, Sept. 28. Attempt to be there, even if that means paying someone for his/her ticket or selling him/her your soul. It’s a lot of fun, and fun is worth your soul, right?
To view the famous artworks included in Prospect’s rendition of “Exhibit This!” and all the artworks in the original play, click here.