For the third straight year, Riverwood International Charter School presented an original student-run play in its black box theater Oct. 24-25. The 45-minute show, “Agni Kai,” was written and directed by Riverwood senior Shane Kleber. It is a story about honor, swordsmanship and love, and gets its title from one of the characters.
Notes Kleber, “The name comes from an event in my favorite TV series, ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender.’ The creators of that show say the name is Sanskrit for what basically translates to ‘Fire Quarrel.’ This concept fits both the themes of that character and the major conflict of the play.”
“Agni Kai” is the third senior-run show to take place in Riverwood’s black box theater, which seats 50 to 60 guests and also doubles as a performing arts classroom. As director, Kleber was in charge of the rehearsal schedule, props, sets, costumes, music, and managing the other student actors. “I am proud to teach my students about leadership by giving them a ‘hands on’ opportunity to direct their peers,” said Mary Beth Vanderhoek, director of Riverwood’s theater program. “This is no easy task for them.”
This play starred Riverwood senior Sam Cooney, playing himself, and took place in his apartment in the adjacent future. Sam was supported by senior Josh Lerner, juniors Hannah Suggs and Nicole Frysh, sophomores Vivian Lutz and Rob Lindberg, and freshmen Aaralyn McAleer, Joanna Bartlett and Sophie Ingram.
According to Kleber, “I’ve always wanted to be able to create something. Riverwood’s theater department has done a great job in facilitating projects like this with seniors before me putting on their own productions, so I felt like I could step up.”
Kleber is the son of Jamie and Steven Kleber and the grandson to Barbara and Garvin Kleber. Barbara was recently recognized for 50 years of religious school leadership at Ahavath Achim Synagogue.
“We couldn’t be prouder as parents; Shane’s play’s character development includes many of life’s spiritual lessons,” Steven Kleber said.