NHS One Act Play to Present "The Tomb of Semele"

NHS One Act Play to Present "The Tomb of Semele"
Posted on 03/02/2018
NHS One Act Play to Present "The Tomb of Semele" Next Week

It’s not all Greek for Nacogdoches High School theatre instructor Victoria Perry.

An adaption by Perry of “The Bacchae” by Euripides (the ancient tale of Dionysus in Greek mythology) was accepted last fall by the University Interscholastic League as a proper text for its One-Act Play competitions held during the spring semester.

“The Tomb of Semele” is an adaption of the ancient story. The longtime NHS teacher introduced new characters, rewrote others and changed the ending, creating enough change, the UIL said, it was a standalone play.

“I drastically changed some of it,” said Perry, whose company of students will put the play on Wednesday, March 7, in the district One-Act competition in Ennis.

At 7 p.m. March 9-10, the students will perform for the public at the NHS auditorium. Tickets will be available at the door for $5.

In short, Semele is the human mother of Dionysus, whose father is Zeus, the mythological Greek god of all gods. In Perry’s story, Dionysus returns to his homeland, where his mother’s tomb is barred from decoration and honor.

That leads to a fiery collision between Dionysus and his followers — warrior women named the “maenads” — and his cousin, Pentheus, who doesn’t believe Dionysus is the offspring of Zeus.

Pentheus doesn’t allow the inhabitants of Thebes, a city in Greece central to much of the ancient mythology, to pay tribute to Semele, angering his half-god cousin, who ultimately extracts his revenge.

The story carries the theme central to all the Greek tragedies, Perry said… “don’t mess with the gods.”

Perry’s play, students say, is a departure from others the theatre department has worked with before.

“This show has challenged me by forcing us to access the intensity and brutality of the play, especially from the character I’m playing,” said NHS senior Daniel Wilder, who plays the role of Pentheus. “At the same time, I’m proud of how we have all been able to push our own personal comfort zone and become immersed in this production.”

The characters also differ from those in other productions, said Adrian Pitts, a sophomore in the lead as Dionysus. “This character is so unlike anything in our world and exists in direct contrast to our own,” he said. “Up to now, I’ve only done realism.”

Perry spent a few years working on her version of the story, completing passages then setting them aside before returning once more to the project. Last summer she committed to completing the rewrite and submitting it to the UIL, the governing body for nearly all public school athletic, academic and fine arts competitions in Texas.

She mailed the play to the UIL — wondering if the agency would even like it — only to learn the UIL approved it for use in Texas, and successfully hurdling the oftentimes complicated process of getting new material accepted.

The production NHS will take on the road to Ennis includes 24 company members, one under the limit allowed for UIL one-act play competitions. The “Tomb of Semele” requires plenty of set work, Perry said, as well as all the “magic” of a theater production that includes some special effects.

“Rocks, lights, fog and quick changes,” she said.

It’s also a physically challenging show. “I tell the students if they’re not tired after 40 minutes, they didn’t work hard enough.”

Those rocks as well as other pieces for the set – such as trees as well as a tomb for Semele – required weeks of work, Perry said. And all of it will be transported by bus to Ennis before returning to Nacogdoches for a two-night production for the home folks.


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