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My years at Prep were filled with many extremes, from barely passing some classes to excellence in others, from being an isolationist computer geek (with just about everything except the pocket protector) to singing as part of a special eight-member "schola" at the Baccalaureate Mass. But one part of my Prep experience was always consistent: the love and fun that can only be experienced in the Prep Players.
I first started my Prep Players experience on stage crew for Camelot in the spring of 1985 at the behest of Kathy Elgaway. I eventually managed to work myself onto the stage in later plays, something that I would never have been able to do had I not joined the Prep Players, until my final performance of Cinderella in 1987.
As far as I was concerned, the Prep Players was the only group where I could be who I was and use the talents that I had while bringing smiles and sometime tears to people that I didn't even know. I didn't have to be athletic, on the honor roll, well-versed, well-spoken, or anything else that was needed to have to get into other extra-curricular activities. I was accepted for just being me. All stereotypes and cliques were stripped away. People that I never thought would give me the time of day were now friends with whom I could talk and laugh - in school as well as at rehearsals and performances.
I can say with complete honesty that my only regret of my high school years is that I did not involve myself with the Prep Players until my sophomore year.
Many years have passed since my last Prep Players performance, and my feelings towards the Players are as strong as ever. Even now I wish that I had the time (and ability) to be involved more with the Players than I currently am able to do. Fortunately, the benefits of the Internet have given me the ability to produce this web site. It is only a small part of how I would like to be involved with the Prep Players again, but it is my way of saying "Thank you" for all of the wonderful times.
It is my sincerest hope that this web site will help you to remember the wonderful memories of the Prep Players as well.
-- John L. Berger, Class of 1987
Like the early followers of Ignatius, the word “company” has a special meaning for the members of the Scranton Prep Players. It is what defines them. They are a group of individuals who come together twice a year to become a community of young men and women who learn to recognize each other’s talents, and creative abilities. Many discover abilities they never knew they had; many find out who they are, many discover who they can become, and many learn who they will never be. All of them, hopefully, find a place of acceptance, encouragement, and love. Throughout the entire Players’ experience, students are often reminded of the gifts that God has given them. They are continually encouraged to share those gifts, whatever they may be, with others in the world.
The Prep Players, one of the largest extra-curricular activities at Scranton Prep, uses an apprenticeship approach to stage its productions. Students begin by joining the various production crews. They advance to positions of responsibility and authority (e.g. assistant stage manager, stage manager, assistant student director, student director) on the recommendation of the students already holding those positions.
Students who are in charge of production crews are very involved in the countless decisions that must be made throughout the weeks of production. Students are active in set design, construction, and decoration. They also design and build as many costumes as possible as well as myriad properties both stage and hand. Students in charge of the set design, costume and the props crews research the architecture, clothing and furnishings of the historic period of the play being produced.
Students design and execute all of the make up and hairstyles for production. Often they research the hairstyles of a particular historic period in order to replicate as closely as possible the style of the day. Although they are always under the supervision of an adult, members of the Prep Players are primarily responsible for the final product—the play.
Students also design the artwork that is used for every production’s programs and posters. This is accomplished in conjunction with the Scranton Prep Art Society. Students are invited to submit appropriate designs to the art teacher, the play’s director, and the play’s producer for consideration. The students are given the opportunity to read the script before submitting a design. After a design has been submitted, the three supervising adults critique the work based on criteria that the student has been given in advance. Students are given deadlines and are treated as they would be in the professional world. On occasion, student response to this process has been so good that the works of two students have been chosen, one appearing on the poster, and the other appearing on the program.
Students are in charge of the box office and the house management of the production. Under the supervision of an adult, the students take care of all aspects of ticket sales. During production, they sell tickets, and count money. They are also given the responsibility of cleaning the house before and after each performance. Through the positions of house manager and box office manager (each student–held), the business aspect of the production runs very smoothly.
Another important area of production is compiling the program information for the printer. The box office manager is responsible for this daunting task. She/He collects all pertinent information and types a finished program for the printer to use. When the first proof arrives, she/he, along with several others, reviews the proof for corrections before the final printing is ordered.
When a play has been selected for production, the first phase of the planning begins with a pre-production meeting for all those in charge of a production crew. Once auditions are scheduled, they are open to any student in the school. They are generally held about eight or nine weeks prior to production depending on the size of the cast. The stage manager and student director, along with their assistants, run auditions for the director. Students who audition for and receive a role, as well as their parents, must sign a contract for the run of the show.
Throughout the various levels of the production, students evaluate their experiences. Sometimes that evaluation involves their own personal performance either as an actor or a crew member or a crew leader. Sometimes it involves how they are dealing with other students. Students are continually reminded to look at how they have grown as actors, as leaders, and most importantly as young men and women. After the production comes down, students attend a postproduction meeting at which they are urged to take an honest look at themselves and others in order to honestly evaluate the reasons why the production was or was not a success.
The Prep Players exist not merely to put on plays. They exist, indeed have flourished, because concern for the student is at the heart of this activity.
As the director and moderator of this activity, the challenge is always, “How can I teach our students that their theatre experience is a reflection of their life experiences?” Attempting to answer that question has been one of the most satisfying and enriching challenges of my professional life.
-- Ann S. Moyles