Graceland University’s theatre department is presenting Speech and Debate, written by Stephen Karam, for its second show of the 2016-2017 season. Directed by teacher professor Gary Heisserer, Speech and Debate stars five student actors depicting the struggle of self-discovery young teens go through in high school.
The cast consists of senior Kyle DePriest, sophomores Krista Berry, Andrew Dipoto, and Haley Johnson, and freshman Jayne Welch. With such a small cast, the group has been able to work intimately together from the beginning and build a community with their director and stage managers (senior Kate Morgan and sophomore Terry Isley).
Krista Berry says, “On the surface, Speech and Debate is about a group of ordinary teenagers that find themselves in extraordinary situations.” Theses teenagers have to show their importance and make themselves heard in a world full of adults trying to silence them. Berry is very excited for the play to gather an audience later this week and can’t wait for her peers to see what the five of them have been working on for the later part of this semester.
Director Gary Heisserer is particularly invested in showing this story to the world and has added a daytime showing on Thursday so that students in INTD/Critical Thinking have the chance to see the performance as part of their class. Heisserer says, “I think more than anything the play is about how we find our voice in the world, and that I think is particularly challenging for high school students because there’s so much peer pressure and so much telling them how to act. If you want to create something that’s intelligent or meaningful, how do you do that if you’re in a world where you’re not accepted? That’s particularly hard in high school when there are all these different types of circles.”
Senior Kyle DePriest agrees with that as well. He says that Speech and Debate has been his favorite show to work on since being at Graceland and that’s it’s mostly about the message that he gets the opportunity to share with younger viewers. DePriest says, “The three kids have to find not only themselves but have to find how they fit in with others as well. Speech and Debate really showcases what it means to be a high schooler during a generation focused on self-image and teenage development.”
Speech and Debate opens Thursday, November 17th, 2016 at 7:30 PM and will be performed in the JR Theatre in the Shaw Center. Evening shows include Friday, November 18th and Saturday, November 19th at 7:30 PM. There will be a 2:00 PM matinee on Sunday, November 20th. Student tickets are $1 an all others are $5 at the Shaw Box Office, open from 9am-12pm and 1-4pm on weekdays and also from 6:30-7:30pm nights before the show.
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