Hope College Theatre will present "Second Class" by Brad Slaight in the DeWittCenter main theatre beginning Friday, Oct. 3.
Performances are scheduled for Friday and Saturday, Oct. 3 and 4; and Wednesday through Saturday, Oct. 8-11, all with an 8 p.m. curtain.
"Second Class" is a continuation of Brad Slaight's previous play, "Class Action"; both plays pertain to the trials, tribulations, and joys of high school life. Through a series of scenes, vignettes, and monologues, "Second Class" aims to demonstrate that although teens have their tough days, there are plenty of good times and a lot of laughter, too.
"I wanted to examine the clichés of high school. I'm of a mind that when I just think back on my own high school experiences - some of those friends are my friends for life," said "Second Class" director Jean Reed Bahle, "I learned a lot of important stuff. Things beyond English and biology, but life experience, how to be with other people."
Bahle has been involved with the arts in West Michigan for more than 30 years as administrator, publicist, reviewer, and free-lance talent in radio, television and industrial films; and involved in area theatre as a playwright and director. As an actor, she has appeared in more than 50 productions, working with Boarshead in Lansing, Hope Summer Repertory Theatre in Holland, Grand Rapids Civic and Circle Theatre, and most prominently with Actors' Theatre.
For the past 20 years, Bahle has taught acting and writing workshops in area schools, at Actors' and Civic, and has served as adjunct faculty in the theatre department at GRCC. Since 1994 she has served as visiting assistant professor in the theatre department at HopeCollege.
Bahle has enjoyed working with students in a directorial capacity. She said, "It's a terrific ensemble and a mix of upperclassmen and freshmen. One of the first things new students always ask is, 'Will I get cast?' Half the cast of "Second Class" are freshmen. How's that for equal opportunity?!"
"It's a true ensemble piece" Bahle continued. "Everybody gets their glory moment; they each play five or six different characters. It's a nice stretch piece for actors."
Bahle wrote to playwright Brad Slaight to discuss the script. She was interested in adding stylized movement in between scenes, and, with Slaight's go-ahead, Bahle and the cast have been experimenting with a guest artist from the department of dance, Sharon Wong. In addition to incorporating movement into "Second Class," the cast wrote its own epilogue. For Bahle, this is what playmaking is all about: honoring the playwright but finding the portion that one can bring to it.
As Bahle summarized, "[It's] going back and looking at experiences that you may tend to dismiss. High school is very different now than when I went to high school, and yet some things never change."
Faculty members working on the production team are Michelle Bombe, costume designer; Perry Landes, lighting designer; and Richard Smith, scenic designer. Serving as technical director is staff member Paul Anderson.
Several students are also serving on the production team: senior Lisa Borton of Hudson, co-costume designer; junior Ken Chamberlain of Metuchen, N.J., sound designer; senior Jaclynn Cherry of Rochester Hills, stage manager; freshman Elizabeth Dwyer of Ypsilanti, assistant stage manager; junior Samantha Molnar of Chardon, Ohio, assistant stage manager; senior Naomi Pointer of Manistee, assistant director; and senior Katie Terpstra of Zeeland, properties designer.
The cast ensemble includes: sophomore Brianna Cooney of Waterford; freshman Seth Hoard of Traverse City; freshman Cory Lakatos of Howell; junior Alex Martin of Saugatuck; senior Maggie McGurn of Traverse City; sophomore Jackie Richards of Worthington, Ohio; freshman John Telfer of Western Springs, Ill.; sophomore Jenny Tremblay of Oostburg, Wis.; freshman Madison Tustin of Plainwell; and freshman Kara Williams of Saline.
Tickets for "Second Class" are $7 for regular admission, $5 for Hope faculty and staff, and $4 for students and senior citizens, and are available at the Hope College ticket office located in DeVos Fieldhouse, which is open weekdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. In addition, the theatre lobby ticket office in the DeWitt Center will be open on performance nights shortly before 8 p.m. The ticket office may be contacted at (616) 395-7890.
The DeVos Fieldhouse is located at 222 Fairbanks Avenue between Ninth and 11th streets. The DeWitt Center is located at 141 E. 12th St., on Columbia Avenue at 12th Street.