Cast set for HHS video production
Ken McLemore, Hope Public Schools

HOPE – Rehearsals begin this week for filming of the Hope High School student production “The Rose” under the direction of Arkansas Artist in Education Chelsye Ginn.

HHS English teacher Janet Banister’s classes wrote the script for the one-act play, facilitated by Kansas-based Arkansas Artist in Education Repha Buckman and Banister; and, Ginn cast the players.

Cast members include Isaiah Glover as Kamal, Alyssa Fincher as Brittany, Xena Kimble as Doris, Phillip Knighton as Eric, Gianni Trotter as Lily, Daniel Dyer as Derrick, A’lecia Conway as Shalya, Dominic Dellaso as Rico, and Geona Ketton as Kattie.

The play portrays the struggle of a high school student who is part of a mentoring group, but is faced with personal tragedy that results in a dramatic change in character, and the efforts of the other group members to understand what has happened in order to help him.

“I like to work on new projects,” Ginn said during casting auditions. “And, I’ve worked with all age groups.”

A graduate of the prestigious Florida State University School of Theatre, Ginn studied in the school’s Theatre Academy London under professionals from the British stage. She has worked professionally on stage, in theatrical direction, fight choreography, and stage management. Ginn has also been a teaching artist in Northeast Florida and Seattle, Wash., most recently moving to Fayetteville in 2013, where she has been active professionally as an actor and teaching artist, and attended the AWE Institute for teachers at the Walton Arts Center.

“As a teaching artist, I ensure that actors are equipped with the necessary tools to tell stories with clarity, honesty, and imagination,” Ginn said.

She is impressed with the script written by the HHS students for its honesty.

“I have to bring out the humanity in these characters; to make them relatable,” Ginn said.

Consequently, Ginn will sit down with her cast in a first reading of the script and work with the actors in their understanding of what has been written for them to portray.

“Usually, a play has a trial run for script revisions,” she said.

Not having that live interaction with an audience to tweak script interpretation, Ginn said the cast members’ understanding of their characters is all-the-more important.

“You have to have a clear idea of, perhaps, five ideas about the character,” she said.

Ginn looks for signs of that understanding during auditions.

“Where these are students auditioning; do they understand the text?” she asked. “Do they understand the character by the way they sound, and are they natural?”

Although she is trained in classic and interpretive Shakespearean theater, Ginn said fidelity to the author’s intent outweighs stylistic concerns, especially with student productions.

“The most important thing as an actor is to be truthful,” she said. “Do I believe that they want what the character wants in the scene?”

The production will be filmed by EAST program students of Ms. Adrienne Ware under the direction of a professional videographer for broadcast on the internet. Set design is being completed by Kendrick Adams’ art classes, and taping is to begin prior to spring break. Rehearsals will be conducted during lunch periods and after school, Ginn said. Production is scheduled for completion by the end of March.