Marble Falls High School theater arts teacher Jon Clark and his students are feeling a sense of gratitude as they prepare for their production of “Sense and Sensibility.”
“If you look around, say in schools in Austin, Leander, and Dallas, they aren’t doing what we’re doing, putting on plays,” he said. “I think it’s great that our administration is giving arts the same opportunities as football and sports. I’m super grateful, and we’re trying to project an attitude of gratitude.”
Performances of Kate Hamill’s adaptation of the Jane Austen novel are 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 29; 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 31; and 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 1, in the high school auditorium, 2101 Mustang Drive. Tickets are $5 each and available at the door, but people can call 830-798-3602 in advance to reserve seats.
Due to COVID-19, audience members must wear face coverings, and seating will adhere to social distancing guidelines.
Hamill’s adaptation of “Sense and Sensibility” adds more of a comedic punch to Austen’s story. Hamill, an actor and a playwright, studied the novel as well as letters from Austen.
“It’s a very untraditional take on Jane Austen,” Clark said. “It’s a fun take on a classic.”
The story follows Dashwood sisters Elinor and Marianne after the death of their father, which has them struggling financially and socially. The adaptation asks audiences to examine their own reactions to societal pressures along with the characters’ responses.
Clark said the school’s cast includes a strong group of female actors. He pointed out how many productions often relegate female actors to secondary and supporting characters, but not this one.
“I think female representation is important, and this is a great play,” he said.
After months of virtual learning, he and his students are happy to be back on the stage.
“I think the kids, being able to do something they love, is so important for their emotional health,” he said. ” … And, it’s getting some semblance of normalcy back.”
The cast and crew have been rehearsing wearing face masks and following health and safety protocols required by the school district. Though, Clark and his students often go beyond that.
Performances also will follow strict safety practices. After each show, the audience will need to depart the auditorium as soon as the curtains close, and parents won’t be allowed on stage afterward like at previous shows. Clark said that once students get out of their costumes and complete any needed post-performance tasks, they’ll leave the auditorium themselves to find their families.
“It’s been challenging putting on a play in COVID,” Clark admitted, “but for the kids and the staff here, it’s been worth it.”