Nine Canterbury students have spent their winter season performing as a traveling ensemble to bring Boxes: The Play on tour to audiences at several neighboring schools. The cast includes Jess Garcia ‘19, Selina Xin ‘19, Mimi Dattilo ‘19, John Martiska ‘19, Shannon Gao ‘20, Kate Luff ‘20, Nick Viall ‘20, and Sabrina Capodicci ‘20. Sara Stone ‘19 serves is the stage manager and Sarah Armstrong, Director of Theater, has advised and overseen the production as Director.
Boxes, by award-winning playwright Kendra Thomas, is an intimate one-act play that tackles expectations, empathy, and embracing individuality. In the plot, every teen comes of age by receiving an empty box. Main character Jack is curious when he receives his box as a birthday present. His confusion quickly turns to concern when his family, friends, and teachers begin filling his box with their expectations for him. The heavier Jack’s box gets, the more burdened he feels by it—and the more Jack considers following his friend Chris’s lead and throwing his box away. Before Jack casts away his own ambitions to relieve him from the stress of needing to please others, a strong supporting cast of friends helps Jack sort through what matters most and what’s worth holding onto. Ultimately, Jack comes to understand that his box is filled, not with other people’s expectations for him, but with their hopes, so that he can create his own goals and dreams.
Following each production, the cast has offered a talk-back session with their middle school-aged audiences. The actors have been able to explain how they explored and developed their roles and participate in Q&A with the curious students. At Mizzentop Middle School, NY, the players’ first off-campus performance, students and staff noted how grateful they were for how engaging and responsive the Canterbury cast was in addition to having brought a wonderful performance.
“Touring teaches out students how to pack up gear, bring out their set and put it all up...all the work that goes behind taking a production on the road,” remarked Sarah Armstrong. “This production has taught the cast problem solving skills, the ability to be adaptable, and how to engage with strangers!” During the Q&A sessions, players needed to react and respond to student questions in tandem, reflecting simultaneously on their performance, their character’s development, and the audience’s reaction.
“The show has brought so much assuredness out of these nine students,” Sarah continued. “To see them grow and build layers of confidence over the course of several traveling shows has been truly remarkable.”
The troupe brought their performance to Mizzentop Middle School, NY, San Miguel Academy of Newburgh, NY, Washington Montessori, CT, and Rumsey Hall School, CT, strengthening the already-strong bond between our School and these local institutions from which many Canterbury students arrive.
The small but mighty cast of nine performed for the final evening at 7:30 pm on February 23—but this time in the L. Michael Sheehy ‘56 Choral Classroom for Canterbury audiences. With no time to rest, the majority of the cast heads immediately into the spring season to prepare for the musical, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.