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HomeNewsLocal newsSCECHS Drama Club Performed “The Flip Side” to an Enthusiastic Crowd Last...

SCECHS Drama Club Performed “The Flip Side” to an Enthusiastic Crowd Last Weekend

“The Flip Side” actors taking a bow. (Photo by Joan Willock)

The St. Croix Educational Complex High School Drama Club showed off and showed out the talents of 14 actors and eight crew members in two unforgettable evenings last Friday and Saturday. The “Flip Side” was showcased with original monologues and scripted improvisations written by the students and performed in the school library to an enthusiastic crowd of 150 parents, educators, and community members.

The SCECHS Drama Club meets Mondays and Wednesdays after school with eight committed core members. The drop-in students meet Wednesdays at lunchtime for improvisation. With drama teacher Sayeeda Carter as their instructor, these students are finding the inner workings of their theatrical minds, which boasts the likes of what they wrote, produced and performed in “The Flip Side.”

Drama, Speech and Debate teacher Sayeeda Carter (Photo by Chalana Brown)

Carter’s drama club has been in existence since 2011. She also teaches two speech classes a semester and two debate classes a semester. She would love to turn up the volume with more drama classes, she said.

 

“My students decided to write stories about teen life in the Virgin Islands. There were a myriad of themes they wanted to address that warranted the attention of their parents, their teachers, and their community. There are the issues of mental health, adolescents not being heard by their parents, the problem of family alcoholism, and the disrespect of young boys using ‘catcalls’ to gain attention from young girls,” Carter shared.

Patrick Senhouse and Anai Browne in “Pssssst!” This is an improvisation about catcalling and its ill effects. (Photo by Chalana Brown)

The students wanted to know how to send very poignant or hard-core messages to parents in a creative way. Carter said, “When you fictionalize emotional issues, the blame can come off of you, and you can say that’s just acting. Yet, you’re hoping and pushing that some kind of change will happen in your relationship.”

“Students can use theater to talk about what’s going on in a teen’s life in the community. There were feelings coming from the students of becoming overburdened with their parents’ requests to do household chores when they have their homework and their extracurricular activities, yet their parents want so much from them. Some students get stressed out…even at age 15, 16, and 17,” Carter said.

“Journey of a Teen Life” is the ensemble that opened the show. It was authored by 11th-grader Delilah Cruz, who is the SCECHS Poetry Out Loud Winner. Cruz will be traveling to St. Thomas this weekend to compete in the territorial competition. 

Cruz’s ensemble piece is about anxiety and depression in a teen’s life, which she wrote last year and is now getting exposure this year.

“This was my first time writing a monologue. When I was writing, I was really in the moment. I write poetry and music. I really like writing,” Cruz said. 

Cruz spoke about her writing process with the Source. It took a few days to write the monologue. Sometimes, it takes a week or, a month or more when I’m writing. It’s not like writing an assignment, she shared. 

“We talked about domestic violence and what teens go through because of those actions. During the discussion, I was feeling sad for a brief moment and I was analyzing my life in a way. When I wrote, it was not about my personal life; it was about everyone else’s perspective. I speak a lot, but I listen more,” Cruz continued.

Cruz said she is like a therapist. “When others come to me for advice, they tell me things, so I have used some of it in the monologue anonymously. I’ve used different perspectives, my perspectives, the feelings of others and my own feelings. It’s a whole mix that I’ve used and turned into an ensemble piece,” Cruz added.

In Monologues: Part Two, 10th-grader LaShaonte Joseph sang two songs – one in a duet and the other in a trio. This was her first time singing, she said. “Doll House” and “Strawberry Shortcake,” were the songs by Melanie Martinez. Joseph’s performance addressed several teen concerns. One issue was about body insecurity and another was about a family that appeared perfect on the outside but had problems on the inside.

Zakiya Encarnacion and LaShaonte Joseph singing a duet by Melanie Martinez. (Photo by Chalana Brown)

It was Joseph’s first time singing. “It was fun because some of the audience knew the song, ‘Strawberry Shortcake.’  It was a wonderful experience to see the audience come out to see us do what we do best,” she said. 

Carter recruited 10th-grade student Arianna Davis, who was the most reluctant and is the newest member of the drama club core group. “Arianna had a best friend who was in the club and she would come around and watch her friend and the group. We finally pressed Arianna to join us and she has been doing amazing work,” Carter shared. 

Davis performed a monologue in the opening scene, “It’s Not My Fault,” about a teen coming home from school who needed a break from household chores. “It was a little nerve-wracking. I was feeling shy. I was shaking, but I did my best,” Davis said.

Arianna Davis performing monologue, “It’s Not My Fault.” Written by CHS student Nyah Hamman. (Photo by Chalana Brown)

Carter reflected on some of her goals for her students, her school, and for herself. “I want to make art more important. Students don’t think they want to do drama, until they get in, and then they blossom. We can use theater to unpack the incredible social ills we’re faced with in this community. I would love to have the opportunity to get them writing. It opens up another side of them.”

“I’m trying to push myself as strictly a drama teacher – teaching nothing else. I can accomplish so much working with the students when I am giving them more time. I can continue the trajectory going from high school into their late teens and early twenties,” Carter added.

Carter pushes her students to take part in anything on the island theatrically. Three of her drama club members were in the Caribbean Community Theater’s recent production of  “Chicago.” 

Three of Carter’s students, young men, were arrested on opening night in Frederiksted for having guns in their possession. “We’re fighting with the streets. We must bring more into the lives of these young people. How will our youth bloom if they’re not watered,” she said.

Carter spoke about the 85 pages of monologue writing. “The work is dark. It’s angry. It’s sad. I want to hear more about personal joy in their lives. I want to be realistic, but there is joy in life. There are people falling in love. People are getting accepted to the college of their choice. Art is making joy. That’s what I want for my students…joy.”

The SCECHS Drama Club is one of the 21st Century After-School Programs. Assistant Director Joan Willock spoke to the Source about the show. 

“Oh my gosh! The show was absolutely marvelous. I liked the messages, the students’ performances, the social and emotional issues – it went so well. I saw the show in the early stages as they were rehearsing and the result is amazing. The students shone. The audience was very receptive.”

Willock said she would like to see the show presented to other high schools and to other parents. “Ms. Carter did a marvelous job. She hustled for her students. We must applaud her.”

Audience members write comments and opinions about social and community issues. (Photo by Chalana Brown)

The audience was asked to make comments about the show on post-it notes as they exited the library. Carter shared some that spoke about the show in general and also to specific students.

 – “This was certainly a great production – unique in bringing out what happens in our present-day society. I’m so proud of the student and kudos to you, Carter.”

– “Sole Rogers, you are a radiant star. I love your message. Keep transmitting.” [Rogers, the drama club president, did a monologue on teenage and parent alcoholism].

 – “The vulnerability, the writing, the power…You guys are more than enough. I’m so happy I saw this and so glad it happened.”

 –  “Thank you for bringing light to us in the darkness, because you are awesome.”

 –  “Congratulations on an amazing show. The dialogue was absolutely beautiful and meaningful and I was able to capture all of the actors’ amazing talent. Great job, Arianna. Believe in yourself.” 

 –  “You must take this show on the road and perform it to every school’s PTA. It was both provocative and touching.”

Carter was overjoyed that the entire cast from “Chicago” came to the show. “I love cross-pollination,” she said.

For more information:
sayeeda.carter@gmail.com

 

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