A series of stage performances begin today at North Montgomery High School in the form of a contemporary work that centers around the ever-present, attention-depreciating role of the internet in the lives of young people today.
The fall play, titled “The Internet is Distract — OH LOOK A KITTEN,” comes from playwrite Ian McWethy and features a cast and crew of more than 30 students singing, acting and engineering a treasure trove of musical and choreographed pieces.
The play will be codirected by Mike Melvin and Daniel Martin, each of whom also work as teachers in the district. Melvin and Martin are fall play director and assistant director, respectively, and supervise the auditorium at North.
“We chose this show because of how fun it is — how could you imagine Facebook on stage, coming to life,” Melvin asked. “How appropriate for the times, since everyone is kind of online right now.
“For the most part, the whole play is set up as if it were you’re kind of living in Joy’s computer,” he explained. “So when she says, ‘Open window,’ the lights come up on somebody and then it’s that window, and then she’ll facetime somebody and lights come up on another part of the stage.”
A cast of unusual characters comprise the story, including popular interweb giants such as Snapchat, Netflix, Facebook and Google. The play even features characters called “click bait,” personified by Charger students who may take on two or more roles.
Such a unique style of stage engineering, which lends itself to social distancing amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, took the help of everyone involved, Melvin said. Many students are not simply a cast or crew member; seniors Sam Douma and Joy Davis — the play’s lead — also designed the lights and sound aspects of the show.
“(Douma) sat down with me and the other lighting students and we just kind of made his vision come to life,” Melvin said. “(Davis) did the sound design for it, so she was the one trying to figure out who should get a mic here, and what would be the best levels. They’re our only two tech seniors.”
Douma plays Google in this weekend’s performances. Like many roles in the play, students have had the liberty to explore the characters as they see them.
“A lot of people are kind of confused when they first hear that, but I think it’s important to realize the structure of the show ... is experiencing a first-person perspective of what it’s like to be on a computer,” he said. “Especially at this time. I think it’s kind of cool having this show be so applicable to this time period, because everyone is always on their screens, flipping between tabs and stuff.”
Davis plays Joy, the lead character of a play told from her perspective as she utilizes technology.
“I’m the one who’s trying to write the project or essay or whatever, and then I keep distracted by the internet stuff and Abi talking to me and stuff like that, so I can’t finish it,” Davis said. “That’s the whole payoff. It’s really realistic.”
The play debuts today at 7 p.m. with another performance set for Saturday at the same time. A third performance will begin 2:30 p.m. on Sunday.
Masks and social distancing will be observed during the play to promote a safe environment for both students and guests, Melvin said.
Tickets are available at the door at $8 for adults and $5 for students. Tickets may also be reserved by visiting bit.ly/nmhsfinearts. For more information, call the high school at 765-362-5140.
The full cast and crew list includes students, teachers and volunteers. Those involved, along with their character or other role they play, are: Alecsandra Baldwin, Snapchat, Bing; Emerson Boaz, Netflix, Facebook; Cassie Bone, Nina Benson; Jackie Carlisle, Grandma; Miranda Crowe, Amazon Prime Video, Rachel fan, Click Bait 1; Jordan Crull, Mom; Joy Davis, Joy; Lily Dockins, Jenny; Aavree Doughty, announcer, ninja; Sam Douma, Google; Rylan Dowell, Tinder, Adam, Torch; Abi Eutsler, Abi; Haley Evans, meme voice, scare voice; Harmon Hann, Twitch (Corban), Wiki contributor, Mark, Devon; Shelby Kammerer, cat; Rylie Koopman, Twitter, lounge singer; Sophie Morris, Hulu, Rachel fan, Click Bait 2; Liberty Owens, Amazon, Dear Evan Goatsen; Ali Roche, Everdeen, Click Ad 1, Fiona; Katherine Stafford, Wikipedia; Kyla Turnbloom, Click Ad 2; Cameron Tyo, email, Nina but Russian; Natalie Walker, HBO, Rachel fan; Kendall Williamson, Instagram, Rachel; Sam Douma, light design; Joy Davis, sound design; and Teegan Bacon, Claire Bonwell, Ben Eldridge, Zack Hall, Meagon Lyon, Lilly McKinniss, Bryce Sommer, tech crew.