This year's spring production by the Chillicothe High School Drama Department is not a typical, lighthearted selection often chosen for high school drama students to present.

This year’s spring production by the Chillicothe High School Drama Department is not a typical, lighthearted selection often chosen for high school drama students to present. It’s a collection of three one-act plays that focuses on the words and stories people share with one another and the words and stories they hide from each other. The plays were partially written by Lisa Rule, CHS English and drama teacher. They touch on some real-life teen experiences, such as abuse, poverty, divorcing parents, losing a mother to cancer, and having an alcoholic parent. When she chose such an unusual collection, Rule consulted the school principal and then the school counselors. “With that support, we met together to make sure parents were informed and that we had a plan in place in case students need to talk after the presentation,” Rule said. The idea received favorable support by the drama students. “One of the things I’m proudest of about this show is the willingness of the teenagers to present this story,” Rule said. “We could have done a lighthearted play or a play that was easy, but they were willing – even eager – to do something they felt was ‘real.’” In the weeks leading up to this weekend’s performance, Rule said she noticed a heightened awareness among the students. “I believe the cast members are more aware of the students around them – those who might be having trouble with an issue,” she said. “We all need to be aware.” The Constitution-Tribune asked the senior cast members to describe the character roles they play, how the production has impacted them, and what message they hope convey to those who attend the performance.

“This production has impacted me by opening my eyes to the struggles many teens face and has also brought me closer to my cast members," said Mary Grace Rice, who portrays Liz, a struggling teen who is working through her parents' divorce and has been in denial about her feelings towards her situation. “I want people to understand that they are not alone with their problems and it is important for people to seek help and open up to someone they trust. Each person has value and is important."

Rule encourages those attending to be open to positive changes within their own hearts and minds. “Remember what it’s like to be a teenager,” she said. “Remember that you can change someone else’s life by just being kind.” Rule said that before she came to teach in Chillicothe, she lost a student to suicide. “He was an amazing kid: smart, talented, respectful,” she reflected. “The tragedy came out of nowhere and impacted the entire school. It was from that event that I came away with the knowledge that we, as teachers, can never fully know or understand what is happening in a teenager’s life. Teenagers wear masks – really, we all do.” Although the idea for this collection came from loss, the emphasis of the evening is on the power of words and the power of sharing your story, she said. The first one-act is called “Few Words” and is a collaborative effort between the Special Education Department and Drama Department. It features the stories of three CHS students whose difficulty is communication either because of autism or a language disorder. These students will tell the beginning of their stories and then their stories will be continued through the monologues of several drama students. Rule said she is very excited about this portion because “it incorporates a part of our student body who can be marginalized and gives us a glimpse of what it is like to lead a life where words are a challenge.” The second one-act is called “One Hundred Lies” and was written by a professional writer, Alan Haehnel. It focuses on a teenager’s journey to healing after her parents’ divorce. She realizes that her life is full of lies that not only are told to her, but lies that she also tells herself. It is a powerful play that ends with the main character realizing she needs to open up to her friends. For comic relief, two drama students will then give an informational presentation on how we communicate (or don’t communicate) via social media. Finally, the third one-act, written by Rule, is “We Wear the Mask” which features the fictional (but realistic) stories of teenagers struggling with emotional issues such as abuse, alcoholism, poverty, and loss. “These monologues are very emotional: the actors portraying the characters are phenomenal and the stories tell it like it is,” Rule said. “The show ends with the message that we can’t let pain tell our story… we have to speak up and connect with other people in order to change our stories… to take off our masks.” Rule says this is a PG13 collection of plays, due to some language and discussion of serious issues. Tickets will be sold at the door, $5 for adults and $2 for students. Spring Play Cast and Crew Few Words: Riley Hawkins, Noel Santos, Tara Buss, Kirsten Moore, Brynlee Faulkner, Lexei Dickerson, Layne Worman, Catey Trout, Callaway Chapman, Jessica Brade, Emma Bernskoetter, Samara Smyer Twitter Love: Hannah Sherrow and Dalton Rosenbach One Hundred Lies: Mary Grace Rice, Aaron James, Alexandria Willard, Ashton Chowning, Audrey Edmisson, Cade Koehly, Kathryn Buss, Maelaina VanFossen, Noelle Mattes, Rylee Miller, Steven Baker, Tarin O’Dell, Will Kieffer. We Wear the Mask: Danielle Midgyett, Macy Cavanah, Brett Shaffer, Lilli Stover, Trace Staton, Macy Gutshall, RyLee Stover, Monica Holland, Anna Shackelford, Jaime Albertson Poem: Elizabeth Leach Crew: Sara Hopper