Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Much Ado About Nothing makes quite an "Ado"

Grace Classical Christian Academy takes play to state

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“Much Ado About Nothing” turned out to be quite the opposite as the actors of Grace Classical Christian Academy were invited to compete at state.

Chartered in 2012, GCCA has brought productions to the community for four years, including its full interpretations of Shakespeare’s piece performed in March at Granbury Live. It was after that production the GCCA theater director got a call from the Texas Christian Athletic Fellowship (TCAF) inquiring if Grace would like to compete in its one-act play division.

“I am so proud of our student actors! They are all hard-working young men and women and with very full plates of rigorous academics, as well as athletics, so to take on Shakespeare and to perform it with excellence, was an especially exceptional feat,” Ashley Keith, theater arts director for Grace shared with excitement.

The choice of Shakespeare was entirely the students’. “Our students actually requested that we perform “Much Ado About Nothing.” It was all their idea! I was nervous about taking on such a challenging script, especially since we’d never attempted Shakespeare in its original language, but the students did an outstanding job from the very beginning!” Keith said.

Directing young actors to perform Shakespeare well seems daunting but Keith goes on to explain,

“Our theater program at GCCA is still very new, but one of the goals of our school is that our students learn how to think (not just what to think or to just memorize a bunch of facts for a test), but actually learn how to learn. So teaching them the skill of acting is actually not very difficult, because as classically educated students, they have been given the tools to know how to learn new things — in this case acting,”

“At the start of our rehearsal season, we read through a version of the play that was translated into modern English, just so we could make sure we really understood what each line meant,” explained Keith, “But it didn’t take long before the magic of Shakespeare’s writing began to unfold before their eyes, and we all began to fall in love with the style, poetry and humor of his beautiful words.”

TCAF judge Amy Hay praised the choice of Shakespeare as well as the interaction between actors. Her notes to the troupe include these words: "Very well done! Excellent story telling. Very good job choosing a show for this cast. I can see very deliberate cast work, relationships, emotional building, and blocking. I believed the leads, and very good work by supporting actors giving meaning to the scene. Thank you for choosing a challenging play. Great ensemble. I love this show!"

Keith herself grew up acting on stage and competed in the one-act play division when she was a student of Granbury ISD.

“Rebecca Walters was my wonderful director at Granbury High School and I have such fond memories of learning from her! Our plays always did well in UIL competitions; in fact, we went to state my senior year.”

The opportunity to direct these young actors has been a rewarding one for Keith.

“After many years in the workforce and raising children, I am so grateful that God opened up an opportunity for me to use my love of theater for his kingdom.”

Keith was able to direct her own children in the production along with their peers. Her daughter Wren Keith, a seventh grader, said, “It’s been a huge blessing to be able to perform Shakespeare. It is written so incredibly. It’s so fun getting to see my friends and classmates become their character. By the end of the show, I couldn’t imagine anyone else playing their role.”

Actor Jacob Hoshauer, a tenth grader, said a key highlight was time with friends. "Being a part of the state competition was a truly wonderful experience. Getting to assume my role one final time right alongside my best friends was definitely something I won't ever forget!”

Hoshauer added, “Additionally, watching the other plays in the competition really blew me out of the water! They showed me different ways I could improve and hone my skills in the future! I'm so thankful I got to compete in a God-centered way and I hope we get this opportunity again in the future."

Rebekah Hoshauer, a senior too, enjoyed the camaraderie but also the opportunity to see other works. "Having the opportunity to go to state was an awesome experience! I loved getting the chance to perform our play together one more time and I really enjoyed getting to watch everyone else's plays as well!"

Keith isn’t sure which piece will be chosen for next year’s play but she looks forward to working hard alongside the students on whatever is chosen. “At this time, we do not have a drama class elective at GCCA, so all our one-act play rehearsals are done as extracurricular activity after school, which means the students put in a lot of after-class hours to really hone the show. However, they love the experience so much that they're willing to make the sacrifice of personal time that pulling off a great theatrical performance requires.”

She adds, “As a classical Christian school, we place a high value on being able to communicate clearly and winsomely in front of an audience, which being on stage provides ample opportunity to practice. It's so fun to see students blossom and grow as individuals as they develop their characters.”

Wren Keith looks forward to future productions as well, “Acting is so fun because you know the story, but every time you perform it, it changes slightly somehow, which is good because it gives diversity to the performance.”

For more information on Grace Classical Christian Academy go to graceclassical.com. For more information on TCAF go to tcafellowship.com/fine-arts.

Grace Classical; Much Ado About Nothing; play goes to state