By AUSD Digital Communications Intern Sofia Nagy
Arrange the props, ovation on cue, and curtains go up! First Avenue Middle School’s (First
Avenue) Production class of 2019 has been preparing the entire fall semester for its upcoming play, “Out Of This World,” taking off this Dec. 6 and 7 at 7 p.m. in the First Avenue auditorium.
First Avenue theater teacher, Susi Reck, is not only the play’s director but plays an integral role in inspiring aspiring actors through teaching courses on the art of acting to First Avenue students in grades sixth through eighth whose passions are to express themselves on the stage.
The theater program at First Avenue has four different levels. First, there is the Theater Exploratory Wheel, a quarter-long introductory class for sixth-graders who are interested in exploring acting. The next level is Theater Experience, a semester-long class for seventh graders who want to dive deeper into thespian thought. Following that is Theater Workshop for both seventh and eighth grade students who have taken Theater Experience and want to continue learning and gain foundational knowledge for what to expect in the capstone Production course; however, this class is not a requirement. The highest level course is Production.
“Production is a semester-long, performance-based class for eighth graders that [have] completed ‘Theater Experience’ in seventh grade. The kids audition for the parts in the play during the course of the semester, and we do everything to produce a show,” explained Reck.
Fizzy Panza, an eighth-grade member of Production 2019 shared, “We are learning so many things from Mrs. Reck. Plus, everyone here is really nice and really supportive, which is something that I really like.”
Students manage it all – designing posters, painting sets, working the lights and effects, selling tickets, and rehearsing tirelessly for months in preparation for their play. Reck shared that the primary source of funding for these productions are ticket sales, and at $5-a-pop, “we truly rely on the support of the public to come out and see our hard work, remarked Reck.”
First Avenue theatrical performances happen twice every school year, and each play calls forth a new cast, which coincides with students new to the Production class each year.
“I love watching my class become an ensemble. When they first enter the classroom, they’re all separate students, but as we go through all of the rehearsals for the performance, they begin to bond together. I love going through that process every year, it’s very exciting,” reflected Reck.
Eighth-grader Kevin Wu shared, “It’s not just about memorizing lines and reciting them. It’s about the people you meet and the experience you get. It feels nice to be a part of this amazing family.”
This year, a lively plot will unfold on the First Avenue stage, complemented with Sci-Fi, interesting intergalactic elements and star-filled performances. “I’ve never done anything with aliens or spaceships, so it has been fun to think about what kind of lightning to use, what to do for costumes, and what aliens would look like. It’s an exuberant challenge. There is also a good message to this play, which is about accepting people who come from other places and encouraging others to get along,” stated Reck.
A unique story with incredible preparation effort from students, Reck is hopeful to have a packed house for the play’s two performances. “We hope everybody comes to the production of ‘Out Of This World’ on Dec. 6 and 7 to witness a truly stellar performance!”