THE SHOW MUST GO ON: St. Pius X Theater Department Gives Students An Artistic Outlet
In a red velvet chair with a classic high back is Creon wearing an all-black suit with a red tie, slouched to one side with a grimacing look. He stands up and begins calmly talking to Antigone before becoming so filled with rage he throws her to the ground below.
The scene is dramatic. It brings you to the edge of your seat.
After the moment is complete, Gloria Fant steps in. Fant, the fourth-year Theater Director at St. Pius X High School, is giving instructions. She is directing her high school theater students who are just a week away from opening their fall show – Antigone by Jean Anouilh.
"We are a very dedicated and disciplined program that enjoys presenting exceptional shows to the community," Fant said. "Our standards are very high, and we put hours of hard work into each production. We want the community to know that when they attend one of our performances, they will be pleasantly surprised by the amount of talent and professionalism they witness. We strive to execute our productions at a higher than 'school' level and have emotionally moved and inspired our audiences."
Antigone, the program put on at the end of October, was a version of the classical play written to oppose Hitler's occupation of France with intense arguments and moral issue debates.
"It is an exciting and challenging piece for the cast," Fant said. "I am combining classical Greek costumes with modern day clothes to signify that we are still debating these same or similar issues today."
With the first show of the year behind them, Fant said the next one they will work on is The Addams Family, which will be a musical set for stage on March 5-8, 2020. The final show of the year will be a comedy on May 7-9, 2020.
Fant has taught for the past 35 years and has been directing plays since she was in high school. Professionally, Fant has also acted and directed.
During the day at St. Pius X, Fant teaches an acting and theater class. In the acting class, students can develop and enhance their performance skills. In theater class, they learn about the history of theater, the many facets of theater and performance skills.
"Although I am teaching theater skills, my biggest hope is that the students learn how to work as a team, in the same way they would in a sports program," Fant said. "Communication skills, leadership skills, dependability, responsibility and determination are all by- products of working as an actor or as a crew member in a show.
"Those who are motivated and thorough, rise to the top and lead the others. Some students will go on to study theater in college and may work professionally in the field, but my main goal is to help them develop skills of self-confidence and poise to prepare them for their futures."
There are multiple ways students can become involved in the program, which also includes not being on stage.
"Not everyone wants to be onstage, so we also honor those that work behind the scenes. Thecrew work is so important and helps to make the actors look good. Some students are very shy but are anxious for the experience of being under the lights to help them conquer their fears. If this is the case, there are parts in the chorus to help build confidence in a safer and less-threatening manner.
We are fun people who accept everyone, and we try to never judge. All skills and talent levels are welcome."
Another avenue students can become involved within the theater department is in the Technical Theater and Stagecraft class taught by John Magalhaes.
"During these classes, the students learn how to design sets, costumes and props," Fant said. "They build the sets we use for our shows and run the lights and sound. The students run the shows completely by opening night. They have opportunities to learn and practice every aspect of a theatrical production."
At the end of the day, this is about the students who Fant said she is grateful for their belief and dedication to their program.
"They inspire me, make me laugh, make me cry and make me so very proud," Fant said. "Through theater, we connect to the world, our community and to ourselves. The gifts and talents these students have shared has truly touched my heart and enriched my life."