By Marcy Stamper
What do you get when you unleash 13 teen imaginations and a drama coach who has been the lead singer of a British rock band and an actor, dancer and writer? You might just get Mirificus High, an original drama with equally original music that aims to portray the lives of teens, with nods to Shakespeare, Alice in Wonderland, and The Breakfast Club — a movie about student detention.
“It’s definitely a lot more interesting than other theater stuff—it’s more in-depth about the dramatic stuff that happens to teens,” said sophomore Garrett Jensen. “It’s more of a personal project than just telling a story.”
The production by the Liberty Bell Drama Company, Liberty Bell High School’s drama club, will be staged Friday, Saturday and Sunday (April 25 – 27). It started with a fairly basic premise—to create characters who would represent archetypal young people. Then they added another set of characters who symbolize the teens’ innermost secrets and conflicts.
For example, there is a football star who would rather go to art school and write music and poetry. There is a teenage boy, new to the school, who is dealing with issues of gender identity. There is a teacher who still grapples with her role in a tragic accident in her youth.
“Each one has a core demon—even though there is a whole family of them,” said Danbert Nobacon, the drama coach and wrangler-in-chief. “There are red herrings in the plot, because the demons are mischievous. It’s kind of twisted—not simple or straightforward.”
Using two sets of characters, Nobacon and the students devised a way to present the interactions between the teens and their innermost selves. The play deals with complex issues and with finding your identity, said Nobacon.
“It’s a lot of work figuring out how to portray your inner demons,” said Jensen.
Since the play is set in a high school, one of the characters portrays the omnipresent intercom system, her head encased in a speaker box. “It’s a supernatural high school,” said Nobacon.
The students reveled in the freedom to devise and revise their own script. “It’s unorganized—but in the best way—because we can change it if we’re not comfortable with our lines,” said sophomore Tara Dod. The 13 students, from seventh through 12th grade, all helped write the script.
Junior Holly Brielle Radwick said they started out exploring common struggles facing teens and society at large. “It’s really teamwork, so it’s really cool—to show our ideas and experiences as teenagers,” said Dod.
“It’s a lot about inner demons—and inner angels—and finding your inner good,” said senior Kira Cramer. “It’s about honesty.”
The play is “an amazing mystery,” said Nobacon, who promised the title would be explained in the course of the production. Nobacon wrote many of the songs, but the students helped to translate the lyrics to contemporary teen vernacular.
Mirificus High will be performed at The Merc Playhouse in Twisp on Friday and Saturday (April 25 and 26) at 7 p.m., and Sunday (April 27) at 3 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for students. It is rated PG-13 for what Nobacon termed “tame cusswords” and some adult themes.