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They'll draw the curtain and show you Shakespeare

By MARGO HORNER, The Mirror

When drama class at Todd Beamer High School was cancelled this year, several students were disappointed — but not discouraged.

With the help of three veteran actors who are all seniors, students formed an after-school drama club. Kat Johnson, Stephanie Yates and Lizzie Officer are working together as acting coaches, directors and play managers. They are directing a group of about 20 younger students.

Next week, the drama club will present its first completely student-directed and produced play, “Twelfth Night” by William Shakespeare.

Chris Gall, a Todd Beamer history teacher acting as the drama club advisor, said she relies on the seniors to organize the play because she has no previous drama experience.

“They’re doing really well,” Gall said.

Drama class, formerly offered for elective credit, was cancelled this year because of budget issues and not enough students signing up, said Todd Beamer principal Joshua Garcia.

The school aimed to continue supporting the student actors by hiring an advisor for the after-school club, Garcia said, adding that the students are doing an incredible job.

“The kids bring a tremendous amount of expertise,” he said.

Officer, who is acting as stage manager for the play, said it’s frustrating working without an experienced drama teacher, but she’s determined to make the play work this year.

“It’s like taking a sports team and scheduling no practices and taking away their coach,” she said.

The seniors have come in during their extra class periods and during winter break to help prepare the rookie actors and design sets. Parents have also stepped in to help.

“We cry and we scream, but we get it figured out,” said Johnson, who is acting as co-director for the play.

The three friends agreed that the experience has taught them valuable leadership skills. They and their parents hope to convince the school administration to bring formal drama classes back.

“Their initiative in pulling together this production is a clear indication that the TBHS administration and Federal Way School District need to reinstate the drama curriculum at Todd Beamer High School,” said parent Jane Yates.

The students said that drama teaches literature, technology, public speaking and self-esteem.

“Drama is so beneficial,” Officer said. “You learn public speaking skills and social skills, which are two skills that are crucial to life.”

Contact Margo Horner: mhorner@fedwaymirror.com or (253) 925-5565.

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The drama club at Todd Beamer High School will present the entirely student-produced and directed play, “Twelfth Night” by William Shakespeare, next week. Show times are 7 p.m. Jan. 10-11 and 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Jan. 12-13 at Todd Beamer High School, 35999 16th Ave. S. Ticket prices are $7 for the matinees and $10 for the evening shows. Tickets for students with ASB cards are $5 for the matinees and $7 for the evening shows.

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