For Harwood Union HS senior Arianna Clark, theater is a chance to learn about 'parts of me that I didn't realize were there'
Around Vermont, high school seniors are about to graduate. For many of them, this was the first year that the pandemic didn't profoundly effect their school days.
We wanted to get a sense of what it was like to go back to "normal," and to understand what really matters to teenagers about to head out into the world. So we asked some students at Harwood Union High School to document what they found significant about their senior years, and worked with them to produce a series we'll be airing all week.
Arianna Clark is an 18-year-old from Waterbury. Today, she brings us to a rehearsal for Harwood’s spring play and talks to others involved in the production.
We recommend listening to this story if you can! We've also provided a transcript below.
[Director Scott Weigand: OK top of the scene let's go!]
Arianna Clark: The musical this year was The Sound of Music. I'm playing Frau Schmidt, the housekeeper of the von Trapp family lodge.
[Scott: I think we'll go right into — we'll go right into the party crossover]
The Sound of Music is important to me for a few reasons. One, it's a piece of history. The von Trapps eventually left Vienna, traveled all around the world for a little bit before finally settling into Vermont. My brother has a friend who's descended from the von Trapps. It's kind of cool.
[a group sings 'Do-Re-Mi.']
[Arianna: All right. If you want to sit here, we can get some acceptable audio. Start by just introducing yourself?
"Coming back from not being able to do anything, it felt amazing to step back onto stage. It felt really wonderful because Scott, our director, kept saying again and again and again, 'This is the first time many people have come back into the world and decided 'I want to go see art.'"Arianna Clark
Mia LaPointe: My name is Mia LaPointe. I'm a senior at Harwood.
Arianna: What's the role you're playing this year?
Mia: This year, I'm playing Elsa, the baroness in Sound of Music. I am excited to be performing back on stage again for the second year, even though I'm a senior.
Arianna: And What stopped you from doing shows previous?
Mia: Oh, well, it wasn't my choice previously — it was just COVID.]
We were doing Little Women as my freshman musical. I was very excited about it. Actually, the last thing that ever happened at Harwood was a rehearsal of the whole show — and then we shut down.
Coming back from not being able to do anything, it felt amazing to step back onto stage. It felt really wonderful because Scott, our director, kept saying again and again and again, "This is the first time many people have come back into the world and decided 'I want to go see art.'" And so it was really wonderful to be able to say "We're back. We're sharing stories and experiences together — laugh with us." There's something so innately human about it. And so cool.
[actors practice scene]
I've learned so much about myself through acting, and through taking on different parts of me — and parts of me that I didn't realize were there — and then presenting them. I use theater to examine my issues with perfectionism. I used it to examine my need to be the mom friend. And then with this musical, I examined why I felt I needed to have such powerful roles that had really loud moments, and really intense moments. And I allowed myself to cool down and to feel those emotions — but to examine them from the perspective of someone who was older, and someone who had more experience and who could understand the world from a different perspective.
Scott: Like it's your favorite song and you're in the car by yourself singing. Nice!]
[Ariana: So, can you just tell everyone what your name is?
Scott: Scott Weigand.
"I've learned so much about myself through acting, and through taking on different parts of me — and parts of me that I didn't realize were there — and then presenting them."Arianna Clark
Ariana: And you're the director?
Scott: I am the director.
Ariana: How do you deal with the comings and goings of seniors that you've actually watched grow up? Because you've been doing this for 14 years, so there's been a lot of transitions over the years.
Scott: The whole reason I even do this is because of the experiences that I had when I was in high school, and what it meant to me and what it did for me confidence-wise. I'm just trying to give them skills that aren't necessarily going to make them actors or stage managers or anything to do with theater for the rest of their lives, but skills that can apply to their lives outside of theater as they leave.
And the kids that come in every year, just, you know, understanding that everybody has their own things. And there's a home for all people on the stage in theater — outcasts, popular kids. To me, I like to say that every show is a chance to create a family for a short period of time.]
[students sing So Long, Farewell]
I can officially say I'm going to UVM; I'm going to go into the Grossman School of Business. Not to brag, but I'm in a new program they have — it's very exciting. When I'm not busy with coursework, service work I absolutely will be trying my best to do theater.
[students sing So Long, Farewell]
We did did four performances of The Sound of Music. Friday was the biggest night. And then Saturday night was the last night I ever performed. Throughout the full final show, it didn't feel real that I was leaving. And I was having fun up until the end, where we were singing the finale song and the nuns all come on stage and start singing Climb Every Mountain. As we go off, I saw the crowd of people, and I was singing this song about going off into the world and finding your path, and that there will be beauty before you. That was when I started to tear up. So it was just blurry vision as I bowed, and stepped back, clapping for everyone. As soon as the curtain fell, I was wailing — absolutely wailing. It was such a wonderful show to end on, and I'm so proud of the work we put into it. And though I know in my heart that I'll probably do theater again, it won't be the same and I never will be the same. And that's OK because it was amazing.
This story was produced by Kevin Trevellyan and Anna Van Dine. And special thanks to Kate Youngdahl-Stauss, a teacher at Harwood Union High School who facilitated this project.
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