About 40 Liberty County High School students are asking in earnest for a community investment in the arts.
While members of the Liberty County High School drama club are gearing up for an Oct. 19 regional literary competition, the thespians also are trying to raise about $3,500 toward a spring musical.
The students will vie this month in a Georgia High School Association competition that pits performers from rival schools, according to LCHS Drama Coach Mike Collins.
“We have students who are really planning to make their career in the theater, and because we want to educate the whole student, we want to be able to help them succeed,” Collins said.
Collins said 10 schools are participating, and each will perform their own one-act play, with winners advancing to a state competition next spring.
Panther players are in the thick of about eight weeks of rehearsals for “The Importance of Being Earnest” by Oscar Wilde.
The school’s English department likely will get to see the play in November, and it will be offered to the public in January alongside the school’s Senior Showcase — an event that gives the community connection with the school beyond Friday night games.
“It’s fun to be able to build that bridge between community and school,” Collins added.
Performing a one-act play about three times runs the club between $1,000 and $1,400 for costumes, settings and royalties.
Though public performances make some money off of admission charges, in-school performances and competition performances still require royalties, but do not generate revenue, Collins said.
A committee of student members currently are looking for ways to raise funds, such as restaurant nights, yard sales, bake sales and car washes.
The group’s goal for the spring production is loftier: $3,500 for a more famous, elaborate and modern production, Collins said. He does not want to name the show until it is confirmed.
But at a Sept. 25 rehearsal in the school’s cafeteria, students seemed to enjoy staging the Victorian satire.
Senior Ashley Coronado plays one of the lead females, Cecily, and junior CoShawn Egan plays Algernon, a secondary hero who tells Cecily his name is Earnest to win her affections.
During the rehearsal, assistant drama coach and University of Georgia graduate John Jenkinson and student director Sarah White guided Coronado and Egan through blocking, in which the actors’ on-stage movements are choreographed.
As for the value of theater, Collins expands on his points about student ambition and community connections.
“The other thing is that students who are involved in the fine arts tend to do better in other subjects,” Collins said. “If a student goes into politics, it helps them know how to present themselves, how to meet people, how to just speak publicly.”
That’s just the case for junior Alex Garvin, who also has a role in the play.
Garvin said he wants to become a lawyer.
“Being in front of people, being well-spoken, being able to articulate yourself on stage is a big part in being a lawyer,” he said.
Garvin also said acting is a liberating form of self-expression.
“When I’m onstage, it’s an amazing experience … I don’t know how to explain it, you feel free on stage,” he said.
The club calls on students’ visual-arts skills and logistical skills as well.
About 20 students are on the play’s technical crew, which handles set design, light design and multimedia cues.
Brianna Neely, a sophomore organizing crew members, said the group worked together to create a dual setting that will incorporate two locations on the same stage.
And students have a hand in bringing the sketches to life. Nearby, sophomore Erin Campbell and seniors Josh Glandon and Jabrell Thomas painted the trunks, leaves and floral details on wooden trees for the lush setting.
To donate to the group, contact Liberty County High School at 876-4316.