HHS classes to produce video play
Ken McLemore, Hope Public Schools

HOPE – Students in the English, Art, and EAST programs at Hope High School are developing a one-act video drama which has a completed script, is in set design and is expected to begin video production in March.

The project stems from the Artist-In-Education program through grant funding acquired by the Southwest Arkansas Arts Council. Repha Buckman, who has been an Artist-In-Education artist in Kansas, Nebraska, California, and Arkansas since 1983, worked with HHS AP English Teacher Janet Banister’s classes to develop the script for the production.

“The ultimate goal is to put it on the Web,” Buckman said. “This is funded in part by the Southwest Arkansas Arts Council, the Hope Public Schools, and the Arkansas Arts Council, which is an agency of the Arkansas Department of Heritage; and, the National Education Association.”

The Sterling, Kansas, artist said she and other artists will work with HHS students during a one-month residency to write the script and put the one-act play into video production. Buckman facilitated the development of the script over a week, working with four classes to mold a finished product that aligned with the overall theme.

“It’s one of my favorite things to do,” she said. “We learn a lot when we talk about that.”

Buckman said developing the theme that, “Students can help students and they can change the world one student at a time” was exhausting; but rewarding.

“We have got to do it on our own,” student Ja’Brea Conway offered during the discussion.

The exchanges, sometimes, produce an understanding about a students’ own aspirations.

“I’ve always had a passion for the arts,” student Jordan Davis noted.

Buckman said the interplay of thought and opinions is a key element to learning.

“They learned how to agree to disagree,” she said. “I listen to everything and it all goes up on the page, and we start eliminating or combining.”

Buckman facilitated the development of a critical scene in Banister’s first period class where a student learns about how others perceive him and reacts out of frustration from his personal life.

“Put it in your language,” Banister urged the students. “But, you all change your language all of the time, but the people who are older won’t know what you’re speaking.”

Buckman pushes the discussion in different directions in order to “add the drama.”

Ideas fly; points and counterpoints. There are arguments for reality and counters about the need for clarity. Buckman likes the exchanges.

“Set the scene; what are the typical things that are supposed to happen here?” she urges.

Buckman says there are temptations for the students to simply use a script to vent and caricature people.

“Everybody knows a drama queen or someone who has no filter between their brain and their mouth,” she said. “We try very hard not to make it an identifiable person.”

Near the end of the class period, the group writes a scene transition, where a principal character overhears a key conversation as classes change in the school where the play is set. Buckman asks if the first period class wants to act as “extras” for the scene transition; but, she cautions, “Don’t steal the scene; you have to ask yourself, ‘Do we act like extras?’”

The necessity to think in terms of collaboration is critical, Buckman believes.

“The dialogue is the fun part,” she admits. “It requires a lot of collaboration.”

Kendrick Adams’ art classes will design and build the set for the production, and the EAST program students of Ms. Adrienne Ware will handle the taping, both under the direction of two other Artist-In-Education resident artists. Taping is scheduled for mid-March, according to Buckman.