Theater M, a troupe of 21 student actresses, will spend Jul. 13 through Aug. 22 in Scotland at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the annual gathering of thousands of performers at the largest arts festival in the world, portraying a group of mischievous but well-intentioned all-girls school students in “Commencement,” an original show written specifically for them.
The trip, led by Performing Arts Department Head Anne Scarbrough, Technical Director Doug Lowry and performing arts instructor Gleason Bauer, also ran in 2007.
Because Theater M entered as a professional troupe, the girls are eligible for awards and critiques and can list the experience as a professional credit. Although there is a high school drama festival in conjunction with the Festival Fringe, Scarbrough said that she thought registering as professional was the best option.
“We know that our work can hang with any of the work there, so if we’re going to do it, let’s just do it,” Scarbrough said.
“Commencement” focuses on the yearbook staff at St. Mallory Academy as they plot to destroy a corporation. The play was written by “Aurora Borealis” screenwriter Brent Boyd, who acted with Scarbrough in graduate school at the University of Georgia. Scarborough contacted Boyd about writing a play that would be both gender appropriate for casting and relevant to the international community, and Boyd agreed.
The girls going on the trip, who had to audition and interview with Scarbrough and Lowry before being accepted into the troupe, will rehearse, perform put up and strike their production, all in a span of five weeks.
Students will also be responsible for promoting the show. Scarbrough said that because there are hundreds of plays going on at any given moment, “PR” is crucial.
Hannah ’11 went on the previous trip in 2007 and said that promoting the play—“The Little Prince”—was one of the most memorable parts.
“Sometimes, someone from our cast would be on stilts, and we could talk to people about the play and hand out fliers and such. It was always so fun and rewarding to interact with other people who were as excited about our show and the festival as we were,” Hannah said.
Theater M actress Fiona ’15 said that she is excited about having a “real theater experience” and anticipates deciding which plays to see will be a challenge.
“There’s going to be so much theater everywhere!” Fiona said.
Schuyler ’12 said that she is looking forward to being a part of the festival but that making last minute technical decisions once the group arrives in Scotland will be tough.
“Having to start our tech and somehow getting the show up and running just when we get there will be difficult,” Schuyler said.
Scarbrough acknowledged that the girls will be “working their booties off” but said that they will better understand every aspect of putting up a show after they leave.
“It’s hard to stop and sleep, and it’s hard to stop and eat, because you just want to see one more show,” she said.