Taking a theatrical journey from the ridiculous to the sublime, a group of drama students showed their younger peers the power of acceptance and true friendship.
Ellison High School theater students dove into children’s theater Thursday, traveling to three elementary schools and a middle school to perform an unpublished play called “The Tale of the One-Eyed Monster.”
Theater director Meredith Yanchak elaborated on an idea from a colleague, published playwright Eddie Zipperer, and with his blessing, worked with her students to grow the idea into a script about accepting other people’s differences.
Squeezed into a narrow theater classroom at Manor Middle School, Ellison sophomore Jeffrey Stamp, playing the lead role of Colin, sat alone at lunchtime wearing an eye patch and accepting his lot as the one
everyone picked on.
New student Amy, played by Ellison sophomore Brittney Unitt, sat next to Colin, who uncomfortably pointed out the many other places she could sit.
Undeterred and similarly without friends, she stayed.
To Colin’s shock, Amy asked the obvious question: What’s with the eye patch?
From there, the cast played out a series of ridiculous and hilarious scenarios about how Colin lost his eye.
Sitting in the stands at a baseball game, a peanut flew into his eye scratching his cornea.
Born with just one eye, scientists fit him with a robotic laser-beam eye.
While attending a safari camp, a brawl with a crocodile led to a whip smacking him in the face. Aliens abducted him and took an eye for research, a bank robbery led to violence and a lost eye and finally, mad squirrels attacked him with pinecones.
Audience members watched and laughed as Colin told each tale while Amy rejected each and the rest of the cast acted out the absurd scenarios.
Finally, Amy pointed out to Colin his need to trust other people, and he broke down and told the real story.
As a child, he and a friend rummaged through a box of fireworks and Colin lit one that blew up, blinding his friend. The eye patch, it turned out, was a sort of penance, the least he could do to assuage his guilt.
Moved by the true story, Amy showed up for school with her own unnecessary eye patch, ready to join her new friend in sticking out in the crowd.
“Colin is misunderstood,” Stamp said. “He means well and he accepts that no one likes him. Deep down, he’s lonely.”
“Amy is new and she feels for him,” said Unitt of her character. “Neither of them have friends, and she sincerely cares about him and wants him to feel like he’s not alone.”
“I like children’s theater a lot. I remember when high school students came to our school,” Stamp said. “It made me feel their energy. I’m ecstatic for others to feel that.”
“It’s a story about accepting differences,” said Ellison junior Shanee Campbell, one of the cast members. “It’s about accepting people for who they are. We are also here to inspire them to do drama.”
Yanchak asked the Manor theater students to watch the action closely and identify sound effects and other elements that helped draw their attention. Students responded to the action, praising the high school students for a humorous, impactful performance.