The first half of the Weber School’s fall drama production, “From Where I Stand: Life Through the Eyes of Our Youth,” felt like just another high school show: seven students reciting someone else’s 34-year-old words, doing their best and mostly succeeding but not quite connecting with the material or the audience. It was the kind of show parents could love and others could like.
Then Act II, written by the students themselves under the guidance of director/artist in residence Hilda Willis, began, and something special developed on the Morris & Rae Frank Theatre stage at the Marcus Jewish Community Center on Thursday night, Oct. 29.
Juniors Ayelet Bernstein, Relly Hayut, Emily Kurzweil, Blake Rosen and Mattie Rose, sophomore Sammy Weiss-Cowie, and freshman Samantha Seiden thrived while performing one another’s words, supplemented by Kurzweil’s guitar and Weiss-Cowie’s flute, as well as Omelika Kuumba’s drum, Myron Carroll’s double bass and Fhena’s sound effects and singing.
Willis, whom Weber Head of School Ed Harwitz called “our artistic mensch,” compiled the second act from prose and poetry the students created during three writing sessions dealing with issues high school students face today and reacting to “Blind Dates,” the 1981 Canadian show from which Willis took the scenes for the first act. Willis gave Mattie Rosen credit for playing a central role in the writing and noted that Rosen is working on a musical that could be a future Weber show.
Love was a central theme of the second act, from learning to love yourself to loving to laugh. The students delivered ideas such as “Love is a plural” and “Let love you” with passion and joy.
“We’ve had a wonderful time,” Willis said about the three-week creative process. “They’ve done a wonderful job.”