The After School Players demonstrated their acting chops before a live audience at the Dietrich Theater on Saturday with their performance of ‘Complaint Department and Lemonade.’
Utilizing a minimal set and a few props, the one-act play featured two performers apiece in 15 scenes, as they complain about such things as the amount of icing in an Oreo cookie, the price of cheese, a broken television, singing, and parents.
The production featured the students seamlessly switching roles throughout the show from people voicing their grievances to those taking complaints and trying to solve them.
The play was directed by Brenda Fager, who oversees the After School Players, and assistant director Mary Troy.
Sponsored by the Overlook Estate Foundation, the After School Players has for many years provided students ages 13 to 18 the opportunity to perform on stage and learn about various aspects of a theatrical production at the Dietrich.
“I worked for 17 years for a professional theatrical academy in Houston, Texas,” Fager explained. “I did acting, directing. I also taught classes for the academy.”
Fager and her husband John moved to Tunkhannock five years ago. The following year, she learned that the director’s spot was open for the After School Players.
“It was the best thing that ever happened to us,” she explained.
At the beginning of the production, Fager informed the audience that they would probably see cast members carrying scripts and asking for lines in the course of the show. One actor appeared with a script, but the rest of the production went smoothly.
“This is a classroom situation,” Fager explained. “While what we have here is a finished product, it is unlike a performance.”
The production is more like a rehearsal. The students can call for a line that they’ve forgotten or use a script during the production, without fear of embarrassment.
Fager revealed that two times during the play students forgot their lines, but were covered by their fellow performers. This is one of the aspects of theater they learn through the program.
“It’s still a class,” Fager explained. “It’s still part of the learning process.”
Troy has worked with Fager for the past four years, and also works at the Dietrich.
“It’s wonderful to teach and inspire the kids,” Troy explained. “And figure out if they want to be an actor. I think the hardest thing about this is trying to contain their high energy and direct it to the production.”
One performer was Grace Richter, 16, of Tunkhannock.
“I’ve been here a couple of times before,” she said about performing with the After School Players.
She described the experience of appearing on stage Saturday as “nerve wracking, but fun.”
For Samantha Warring, 14, of Tunkhannock, this is her third year with the After School Players.
“I thought it was good,” she said about the production. “I liked it. I like to perform on stage.”
For Nehemiah Wear, 14, of Tunkhannock, the best part of the production was being able to appear in a dinosaur mask.
“It was really nerve-wracking, but it was a ton of fun,” said Liddie Cooper, 16, of Tunkhannock. “Brenda and Mary are so nice to us. They don’t put any pressure on you, and make it really fun.”
“I love doing this,” Fager explained. “I absolutely adore teaching theater to junior and senior high school students. I love being able to show students the creativity that’s involved, and being able to pull that out of them.”
During the summer, Fager oversees the All-Star Players, which runs for two weeks, with two-and-half hour classes each day. Fager is also directing the Dietrich’s spring play - being performed by adults - of ‘Over the River and Through the Woods.’