LCDS students will perform the world premiere of playwright Jonathan Dorf’s dark comedy, “You Should Never Eat Your Heroes” at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Tickets are $5 in advance or $10 at the door. Head of Country Day’s theater Kristin Wolanin had directed one of Dorf’s plays before, and so the two began an email correspondence earlier this year that culminated in the school staging the debut of Dorf’s original work.
Cougar News asked the actors and playwright about the experience, and what follows are their thoughts:
Dorf: “Originating a role is a challenge in that you’re boldly going where no one has gone before. Nobody knows exactly what that character or indeed the show itself is going to look like or sound like — including me. That can be kind of scary, as it’s like being an acrobat without a net, but as one student said, that’s part of the fun, “We get to blaze our own trail.”
This is a play that, I hope, allows a production to play. One thing the students really seemed to identify with is how the play’s amped up “reality” mirrors the pressure, craziness and downright absurdity of the high school experience. I love taking a world we recognize — in this case, high school — and heightening that world until it’s more than a little off its rocker. But hopefully, even in the maelstrom of mayhem — and there’s rather a lot — we recognize little shreds of truth.”
CN: How does being a high schooler affect the challenge of acting in an allegory about high school?
— Sophia M. ’15: It makes it a lot easier, in some ways. We’re all pretty self-aware of the absurdity of high school.
— Payton B. ’15: It’s easier to act like a high schooler because I am one but it’s also sometimes hard to separate yourself from your character.
CN: If you perform Shakespeare and you’re filling the shoes of Lawrence Olivier, there’s a lot of tradition and history (and baggage) there. How does acting in a play no one’s seen before affect your expectations about your own role and the show as a whole?
— Sophia M.: I think it’s actually lessened the pressure that famous shows carry. When doing well-known shows, it’s hard not to compare yourself to professionals who have been acting for years. It’s like presenting first in class, it’s tough, but you’re also not being compared to anyone else.
— Nick A. ’15: It pushes me to try harder.
— Payton B.: You really have to build your character from the ground up. I really want the character to be right and for people to look at how I played the character and want to play her the same way. The show itself is also an experiment, which we find our way through as we go. We are kind of going into it blind but it’s fun to blaze our own trail.
CN: What’s been the most fun part of doing “You Should Never Eat Your Heroes”?
— Payton B: It’s fun working alongside my best friend as he plays my character’s best friend.
— Nick A: The most fun part was doing Oscar and Betty’s “spats” because they were so close to my everyday conversations with Payton.
— Abbey B. ’21: The most fun (so far) would be the very first day when we met everyone, learned roles and read through the script. Even though I have seen all of the actors in the play before in school, I had never actually gotten to talk to them and know them as well as I have now.
CN: Why should people come see the show?
— Sophia M.: I’m trying to be as mean as possible and I get put in a cooler.
— Payton B.: Although it might be cheesy, it is really true to what high school is and how it can get kind of crazy.
— Nick A.: Because it’s absurdly hilarious.