Crescent Valley High School drama club returns after years-long hiatus with “Beowulf (and the Bard)”

Skand S., News Contributor

A Viking warrior: allergic to violence and doesn’t like working out.

This is the premise of “Beowulf (and the Bard),” an all-student high school play that starts on Friday at Crescent Valley High School in Corvallis. This is the first play put on by CVHS in at least a decade, according to play director and campus steward, James Murray V. 

 A comical take on the classic Old English poem about the warrior Beowulf, the play is told from the perspective of the anonymous poet of the epic, referred to as “the bard.”

According to Murray, the bard is trying to get Beowulf to do something heroic so that it breaks up her writer’s block.

In the past, students from CVHS have been going to Corvallis High School to participate in drama activities. After a long time with no performances, CVHS has resumed its Drama Club activities, although it is not clear when the last play at CVHS was. 

“I get conflicting stories,” Murray said.. “I’ve heard it’s been 10-15 years, I’ve heard it’s been even longer than that, but suffice it to say it’s been a long time. And everyone is excited to have something going on here.”

Murray, who has directed one-act plays in college, and has been a writer and director for short films in the past, said that this was his first time directing a full-length play with an all-student cast. 

According to Murray, for one half of the cast, this is their first time acting in a play, while the other half has not been in a play since middle school, and directing them was very exciting for him.

“Being able to coach them, and teach them about theater – not just acting – but theater, as a whole, has been really rewarding,” Murray said..

The president of the Drama Club at CVHS, Tate Haywood – who is the stage manager and plays one of the patrons, said that interacting with the cast and the director was the best part of rehearsals for her.

“I love theater and I knew that I wanted to be in a show as well as help run a show,” Haywood said.

Meanwhile, for Ava Wise, who plays the role of Gunborg, being able to joke with their fellow cast members was the best part.

Along the way, the cast and the director encountered several challenges.

George Marske, who plays Beowulf in the play, said that getting through fatigue after a long day of school and extracurricular activities was a challenge for him. The time commitment was a challenge not only for the students but also for Murray.

“I am here at the school for 12 hours a day, and that can be very draining. I find that the time commitment is worth the end product,” Murray said..

For Grace Barber, who plays the bard, and for Wise, the biggest challenge was to learn and remember the lines from the play.

“But after a lot of practice on and off stage I got the hang of it and now it comes to me like second nature,” Barber said.

The auditions were not easy either. Haywood said that finding students to audition and costumes were her biggest challenge as a stage manager.

According to Murray, only 4 students turned up for the auditions on the first day while they needed around 10 people. Both Murray and Haywood started organizing by letting other students know about the auditions, which led to a turnout of around 15 students the next day.

Murray and the students are excited to see how the play will turn out. Marske said that he is looking forward to experiencing the joy of each completed show and seeing it in his castmate’s faces. Haywood said she would like to direct a show next year at CVHS.

Murray hopes that the audience will laugh a lot while appreciating the core message of the play – courage, honor and loyalty.

Beowulf (and the Bard) runs May 5-7, 12, and 13 from 7-9 p.m. at Crescent Valley High School. Tickets cost $5 for youth/students (ages 5-17) and $15 for adults and can be purchased here.

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