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Theatre Teaches Life Lessons

March 27, 2018
By Grayce McCormick

Mercy girls are encouraged to participate in the Theatre Department to learn self-advocacy, confidence, responsibility, and open-mindedness according to Joshua von Kampen, new Theatre teacher/director. Those lessons are precisely what he learned in his high school career, so he wants to pass those on to the current generation of high schoolers. He wants Mercy’s Theatre Department to be a welcoming place that stands with arms open to every Mercy girl. 

“The theatre introduces you to people that you wouldn’t originally meet in class or sports, and students can bring those connections back to the classroom,” he said.  “We don’t base the capability to create relationships on achievement. Everyone is equally as important in a show. Everyone is irreplaceable.”

This message resonates within the cast culture as well, according to von Kampen.  The group is open and welcoming to every member because no actor or crew member is more important than the other.

Theatre offers two classes taught, an acting class and a stagecraft class.  Von Kampen is changing the stagecraft class into an intro to theatre class, which will familiarize students with not only costume design and backstage work, but also roles of directors and technicians and the overall collection of the theatre positions contributing to the art of theatre as a whole.  These classes have no prerequisites; anyone is welcome to enroll in these electives.

In addition to taking classes, there are two productions held each year: a play and a musical.  Practices typically begin 10 weeks prior to the production, and last from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

Von Kampen said that he tries to work with every girl’s schedule; he encourages them to be involved in other things.  He understands that this is one of the many extracurricular activities a Mercy girl can participate in.  

“It teaches them to prioritize and manage their time effectively. It also teaches them self-responsibility by being on time to rehearsals, entrances and exits, and learning their lines,” he added. 

Instead of a competitive atmosphere, he also tries to express the importance of creating relationships within the department.

“The theatre is a place where people can express themselves creatively and break out of their comfort zone,” he said.  “Students learn to feel confident even when things go wrong. The production is nonexistent after the final show; no one will remember if you messed up.” Rather, he hopes they remember the sense of community they developed by working together daily for ten weeks.

According to von Kampen, Mercy girls still possess the desire to succeed, but they must succeed together, thereby learning teamwork along the way.

The Mercy Theatre Department will showcase these skills on April 13, 14, and 15 at 7 p.m. each night in their Spring play titled The Girls of the Garden Club: A Comedy in Three Acts by John Patrick, winner of the 1954 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for The Teahouse of the August Moon.  Tickets will be available at the door: $10 for adults, $7 for students (K-12), and $5 for Mercy girls.