2018-05-11 / Front Page

Student-led show is ready to go

By Duke Harrington Staff Writer


Junior Sophie Burchill, as Un, and sophomore Lily McMahon, as One, rehearse a scene from “My Hope,” a play written and directed by senior Ana Dinino and produced entirely by students at Kennebunk High School. (Duke Harrington photo) Junior Sophie Burchill, as Un, and sophomore Lily McMahon, as One, rehearse a scene from “My Hope,” a play written and directed by senior Ana Dinino and produced entirely by students at Kennebunk High School. (Duke Harrington photo) KENNEBUNK — They say the show must go on. But sometimes, in doing so, the show can spawn and entirely new and different production.

That’s the case at Kennebunk High School, where an all-student crew is staging a new play written and directed by senior Ana Dinino. Titled “My Hope,” the show is billed as, “a story about stories, a story about art, a story about hope.” It is, Dinino says, her response to the trauma she and other students felt only a few months ago, when the high school’s new theater manager was let go midway into production of this year’s annual spring musical.

Michael Hermann was in his first year as part-time manager of the auditorium, built as part of the district’s $56.5 million renovation project to three schools, and opened in the fall. He also worked stipend jobs as drama club advisor and director of the musical.


Sound director Nate Durham and stage manager Brendan Rynne, both juniors at Kennebunk High School, run through tech and lighting cues during rehearsal for “My Hope,” a play written and directed by senior Ana Dinino and produced entirely by students. The show will be staged May 18-19 at the high school auditorium. Tickets are $10, but can be reserved in advance at half price by emailing myhopeplay@gmail.com. Proceeds will benefit the school’s new extracurricular drama club. (Duke Harrington photo) Sound director Nate Durham and stage manager Brendan Rynne, both juniors at Kennebunk High School, run through tech and lighting cues during rehearsal for “My Hope,” a play written and directed by senior Ana Dinino and produced entirely by students. The show will be staged May 18-19 at the high school auditorium. Tickets are $10, but can be reserved in advance at half price by emailing myhopeplay@gmail.com. Proceeds will benefit the school’s new extracurricular drama club. (Duke Harrington photo) Hermann offered his written resignation Jan. 31 when it came to light that he had used his school email address to join KBK Moms, a closed Facebook group, which had reportedly become a hotbed of complaints about management style. Denied admission to the group via his own account, Herman admitted to joining under false pretenses by creating a fake user profile in order to view the complaints.

Herman quickly rescinded his resignation, but Superintendent Katie Hawes refused the take-back saying he had violated two school policies on communicating with students and parents.

Herman’s wife, Rachel Yoder, took over direction of the KHS musical production of “As You Like It,” which was deemed a great success despite the backstage drama and community kickback on both sides of Herman’s dismissal. Part of the fallout, however, included the shuttering of MaineStage Shakespeare after seven years. The nonprofit, which staged the Bard’s plays and theater workshops for children in Kennebunk’s Lafayette Park, was slated to enter its first season with Herman and Yoder as company leaders.

Dinino participated in MaineStage Shakespeare from its onset and that led her both to and through the high school’s theater program, as well as to college in Nova Scotia, where she plans to pursue a degree in playwriting and theatrical arts.

Still, she stresses that her play is not a direct commentary on what when down this past winter. Instead, it was just her way of precessesing all the feelings that experience engendered, and to use the work that developed as a means to help her fellow theater students move on.

“I wrote it during that whole debacle,” she said, during a recent rehearsal. “So, it sort of has something to do with that, but it also is meant to be for anyone. It was inspired in that (event) because it was an experience that was very painful for a lot kids. But this show is not meant to pro- voke, not meant to get back at anyone. It’s just something that’s allowed them to heal.

“So, it’s just processing the feelings that whole situation brought up, which are common to all of us,” Dinino said. “ It’s about universal themes in life, about how if you have something you love, people are going to try and take it from you, and as you move through the world, you are going to get lost at times.

“My purpose with this show was to not only talk about why it’s important to have a place and to have a purpose in life, but also to show people that tether really matters to us, because, to us, it felt like nobody did, because we lost our directors, we lost MaineStage, we lost pretty much everything that made this town have really strong theater,” Dinino said.

In the plan, which Dinino acknowledges is a bit avant garde, two parallel narratives in two universes are intertwined.

In One, a character who is a metaphor for hope, is lost and found again by characters named Orb, who is a representation of the artistic light within all of us. Un represents a place we all go to when we feel ourselves losing our connection to others, said Dinino, and One, is meant to represent anyone in the audience.

“Each of the characters and their interactions are meant to symbolize the journey we all go through in life,” Dinino said.

In the “real universe” narrative, stories are told from the point of view of various students, about the importance of art and hope in their lives.

“I interviewed them and made their stories into monologues,” Dinino said.

“Even though its not directly related to what happened, this is just a really nice story of love and acceptance and what theater means to us,” said sophomore Lily McMahon, who plays One.

“Even with everything that happened, we are lucky in that our theater program here is secure,” McMann said. “But at other schools the arts are being taken away. They’re kind of the back seat compared to sports. So, this seemed like a good message to be sending.”

Junior Sophie Burchill plays Un, who has hit a rock-bottom depression.

“I think everyone should see this show because it’s a testament to what so many kids in this theater community and just at the school in general, have gone through,” Burchill said. “A lot of kids have been through a depression or an anxiety phase when they felt very low. For many of them, the theater program has helped them gain that self-confidence they’ve been seeking, or even the hope that they’ve been searching for.

“I think the audience will understand on another level what what some of these kids do go through, because these are real stories,” Burchill said. “My hope is that people will see this show and thing, ‘Oh, maybe we should try to have more conversations.”

Ian Durham is one of two adults in the show. He and his wife, Alyson, were cast alongside their children, Sarah and Nate, who is serving as lighting and sound director.

“To me, it’s really amazing and unusual that this production written, directed, performed and produced entirely by the students,” Durham said. “I think that’s fantastic. They’ve all done a phenomenal job.

“I am thoroughly impressed with Ana,” said Durham, a physicist who nonetheless has been involved in theater for most of his life, thanks to his parents, who are “theater people.”

“I’ve seen her employing techniques I see my dad doing when he directs shows, and I was amazed she knows all that. I certainly didn’t know any of that when I was her age,” Durham. “I think it’s clear that all of the kids here have not just been putting on shows, they’ve had a real educational experience. They’ve really learned the knitty gritty of theater.

“I think thanks to what they’ve learned here, and what they are learning through things like this, Ana, any of the kids, they can go as far in this field as they want,” Durham said. “They are very poised.”

And even if they don’t pursue careers in the arts, they learn things in theater that will be applicable to every other facet of their lives.

“When theater is done right, it can be a really nurturing community in which, allowing kids have been really quiet and reserved to really flourish,” Durham said. “And I think this show, done entirely by the kids, is theater done right.”

Staff Writer Duke Harrington can be reached at news@kennebunkpost.com.

Reserve the date

Three theatrical productions are taking place at Kennebunk High School in the coming weeks.

First up is “My Hope,” written and directed by senior Ana Dinino and staged entirely by students.

Billed as, “A story about stories, a story about art, a story about hope,” the play is a response, Dinino says, to feelings she and other students had to process during the winter, when the school’s new theater manager and spring musical director was released mid-production.

“My Hope” will be staged at 7 p.m. on May 18-19 (with a coffee hour starting at 6 p.m. on the 18th). Tickets are $10 at the door or $5 when reserved in advance by emailing myhopeplay@gmail.com. All proceeds will benefit the high school’s drama club.

The high school theater program will also present its annual spring comedy with “Harvey,” directed by KHS band leader Ben Potvin. That show, upon which the Jimmy Stewart movie of the same name was based, will go off at 7 p.m. on May 31 and 3 p.m. on June 2-3. Tickets are $5 at the door.

Finally, two seniors, Piper Kingston and Max LeBlanc, are producing a musical extravaganza as their senior project, staging “The Pirate Musical,” a show written by Joey Aaskov, KHS class of 2010.

The curtain goes up on that performance at 7 p.m. on June 5-6. For more information, email 18pkingston@rsu21.net.

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