From the massive stacked speakers adorning two corners of the curtained blackbox, Imagine Dragons’ Enemy blasts at a volume many would consider... obscene, disturbing, unsafe, and possibly very disruptive to the rest of the building. Inside the room, people are dispersed about the temporary stands, the wooden floor that occupies most of the space and the adjoining costume closet, and laundry room. Those in the room perform, recklessly and flamboyantly, various tasks of immense dexterity, incredible volume, needless vandalism and overall splintering annoyance. From the gaggle of teenaged girls in the corner hosting a very audible and primarily nonsensical conversation consisting mostly of the phrase “your mom”; to the trio of tall boys who spin broom handles, tripod legs, or any other stick-shaped object as if they were bo-staffs, the scene is one of utter maelstrom and chaos. Through it, one boy is led and guided carefully, in detail. At the end, the smile on his face could not be any wider. A psychosis ward in a mental facility? No. These are the people I spend 80% of my week with, welcome to troupe 5872.
Hello Thespians, and greetings from Helotes, Texas- home of Sandra Day O’Connor High School and the aforementioned troupe 5872! Today you’ll take on the… adventure of learning more about the goings on of this remarkable group of people- another of the amazing Thespian troupes that dot our great state. Hopefully by the end, you will have taken some new knowledge or at least information from the way that we run things at OC that you can bring back to your theatre, as well as a reminder of just what ignites the passion of the dramatic arts for many; community.
Recently, O’Connor has had to adapt, as many did, to the task of performance-based art in the middle of a pandemic; this led to a slew of online improv shows held by the various Theatre 1, 2, & 3/4 classes; a completely virtual performance of Annie, as well as a reprisal during the ‘20-’21 school year of Medea, which had been produced a year earlier, but whose UIL appearance was cut short by the pandemic. But as soon as the new school year came around, OC Theatre hit the ground running for a Fall 2021 performance, a rather successful bout of competition at Thes Fest, two spring musicals, a tech showcase, talent show, then individual class showcases- rounding the year off with Senior Directed performances and a final show by the advanced class. The entire season of course sprinkled with a deluge of monologue performances, improv shows, class-directed one acts, and musical scenes. And not inclined to slow down, the officers and directors have an absolutely astounding lineup this season- moving partially away from the grandiose incorporated shows towards more intimate class-centered performances which should help develop and cultivate a love of more fundamental performance techniques within the company. Hopefully this insightful mastery of the core tenets of acting will allow the actors as a whole to produce shows of the highest quality later in the year; among others, already on the docket are shows such as Chicago, Amadeus, and Matt Cox’s Puffs- a wild variety of theme and genre sure to challenge the players of 5872.
My troupe has many a longstanding tradition; whether it be veneration of the ghost that dwells in our Mech. Mezz.; Senior Directs; Tech Showcases; public dedication of every performance to any person who has helped us greatly in the production of the show; or the highly chaotic birthday celebration, in which all of the particular individual’s favorite songs, sayings, mannerisms, or activities are copied and displayed by the rest of the troupe (described at the beginning of the article). OC Theatre is always looking to give back to the community too, whether it be through the hosting of TheatreCon- where many middle-school students come for a day to learn more about the facets of the Dramatic Arts through workshops and performances; or through participation in the annual Helotes tradition of Cornyval (It’s like a carnival, but “helotes'' means “corn” and we are suckers for puns); or simply by taking our shows on the road to visit the junior-highs in our area to get them excited for theatre in high school.
Above every other facet of our being at O’Connor Theatre, though, we have a welcoming and established sense of community. We are, whether many admit it or not, each other’s closest companions. I’m sure this is no surprise to many of you reading this, as many of you are familiar with the sense of family Theatre can provide, and I’m sure many of your most cherished are among your troupe.
Because who else but your very closest friends would stay until midnight after a day of competition to organize set and props for the following day?
Who else would stand by your side, holding fast to steady a heavy pillar about to crash down in the middle of a performance, or waiting at a hair-trigger’s notice to close the mainstage traveler, initiating a series of five-second costume changes?
Who, but your dearest, would slow dance to steady your nerves behind an elaborate set in the dim dark of blue work lights to a playlist rendered masterfully for the upcoming show and the steady buzz of an anticipative audience?
Though you may quarrel and splinter as groups tend to do, you’ll always remember. All of those exciting nights of haunted houses, or ambiguous holiday parties after school, the precise bus ride line-throughs punctuated too frequently with a sharp “Again!” from a dutiful stage manager. All the times, all of the places -yes- but when all is said and done, the people; though ultimately fleeting in your life, will shine among the brightest… as many Theatre kids are wont to do.
I’m only 16- I am young to this world, and this is certainly not how I thought this blog would end, but it’s clear for me even to see that these are the days to cherish, to hold on to. The warm stage lights, and the dusky night air. I’d like to think that I’ve given you a quick glimpse through a little window at our troupe; and the best thing that I can hope is that it reminds you of yours, because if others can feel likewise enthralled to create art they love with people they love- well, maybe I’ve acted well my part, however minute, here at Texas Thespians- and, of course, there all the honor lies.
Men at some time are masters of their fates.
The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves that we are underlings.
-William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar
~Liam Meister, Texas STO, Troupe 5872