They kicked up their heels, we clicked our cameras.

Blue Brigade Kiddie Clinic Dance Camp 2019

The Blue Brigade hosted its annual summer dance camp for elementary and middle school students, and 63 aspiring young dancers answered the call. After a week of dance training, with the occasional dose of fun thrown in, the Kiddie Clinic dance troupe was ready to perform for a cafeteria full of supportive parents, and MacJournalism was there to capture the show in all of its unabashed enthusiasm and adorableness.
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To see our unabridged collection of images, click the picture at the top of this post to be taken to our Flickr album of more than 350 images from the show and the Thursday practice before the show.

After the campers performed, the Blue Brigade took a turn showing off one of the routine it had been practicing in the morning sessions before camp sessions in the afternoon. The performance, which Blue Brigade director Nancy Honeycutt Searle said could be called “Blue-Grey” or “Let’s Get Ready to Rumble” will also be performed at Wednesday’s first ever Back to Mac Community Kickoff Rally, and it will be performed at the Blue Grey Scrimmage on Aug. 14.  You can see the first ever live performance of this routine (or any routine for the 2019-2020 Blue Brigade for that matter) by clicking on the YouTube icon at the bottom of this post.

 




Aguilar goes all in on pursuing musical dreams

Not every significant summer journey can be measured in miles. While many Knights have traveled long distances to grow as people this summer, senior Jazz Aguilar’s most important summer journey was personal and musical, and she made it without leaving her room.

Aguilar released Distant Album on SoundCloud on July 4. She told MacJournalism it was the first time she has shared her own songs with anyone outside her close circle of friends.

Of the 20 original songs she has written, she chose 10 and recorded them one day in her room, just her and her guitar.

She described the songs as “acoustic pop or singer songwriter music” and said the songs probably had to include traces of  Tracy Chapman, Ed Sheeran, Johnny Cash and Tash Sultana because those are the artists she was listening to while writing the album.

“I have never focused on what genre my music was as long as it’s honest music,” Aguilar said.

The most difficult part of the process, she said, was finding the courage to put her songs out there.

This [album] lets people have an idea of what I write about. Lyrically, it tells a story of who I am and how I am. Musically, it’s just the beginning.”

— senior Jazz Aguilar

“A lot of these songs are about people and stuff I’ve experienced, so it’s almost like my business is out there, but I just had to remember these are songs everybody can relate to in one way or another so I’m not alone with these feelings,” she said. “I want people to feel like I’m singing to them or like they are the ones living it with me because we have all experienced deep feelings in so many different ways. My best friend described my album as a whole like a mood swing. I’ve never heard anything more perfect because as humans we have a mix of emotions, and I find that it’s rare we only feel just sad or angry when it comes to different scenarios in our lives. Especially as teenagers, we all go back and forth.”

Aguilar said she and her family have been through a lot of tough times, but one of the toughest moments in her life–the death of her grandmother–ultimately motivated her to release the album.

Katie Edwards
Aguilar plays with Riley Edwards at Central Market on Father’s Day.

For two weeks following her grandmother’s death, Aguilar isolated herself so she could be alone with her grief.

My best friend came over and got me to leave the house to remind me that I wasn’t the one who died.”

— senior Jazz Aguilar

“I had absolutely no motivation to move out of the house,” she said. “I cried in the shower and sat and watched clouds pass by. I didn’t even realize it had been two weeks since I had left the house. The only reason I even stepped out at all was because my best friend came over and got me to leave the house to remind me that I wasn’t the one who died. My grandma loved my music and I felt I owed it to her to start pursuing it with all I have now.”

The current release, Aguilar said, is just the beginning.

“It’s like the introduction of the book. This [album] lets people have an idea of what I write about. Lyrically, it tells a story of who I am and how I am. Musically, it’s just the beginning.”

Aguilar said she plans to release a full production of the album with trumpet, violin, drums and piano accompanying her singing and guitar.

Krystal Castor
Aguilar poses in front of the Willie Nelson in SoCo.




AISD summer theatre series preview event is black and white (photos) and red (carpet) all over

NEW HEIGHTS FOR AISD SUMMER THEATRE SERIES

Actors from the casts of the Aisd Summer Theatre Series musical “In the Heights,” including McCallum’s own Sami Gade (third from left), perform the musical’s title song during Thursday’s Red Carpet Preview Night at the AISD Performing Arts Center. The musical, featuring music and lyrics by Lin Manuel Miranda of “Hamilton” fame, is one of three shows in the 2019 AISD Summer Theatre Series. The preview featured a red-carpet meet-and-greet in the PAC lobby, followed by previews of all three shows and testimonials from current and former student participants in the summer series. “In the Heights” began its run today. The show runs July 18-21 and will be followed by performances of the dual-language edition of “Disney’s Aladdin” (July 25-July 28) and “Take Five: Shifting Perspectives on (Dis)Ability” (July 27-28). This year’s series is sponsored by the Austin Ed Fund and includes more than 150 students from 30 AISD schools, including many from McCallum.

STILL PART OF THE AISD SUMMER THEATRE WORLD

During the Red Carpet Preview Night for the 2019 AISD Summer Theatre Series on Thursday, two of the stars from 2016’s “Little Mermaid,” which launched the AISD Summer Theatre series were reunited on the AISD Performing Arts Center stage. Gigi Lozano, who played Ariel, and Sam Hallam, one of two actors who played Flounder, recalled the experience, which was formative for them and for the summer theatre series. “It was my first show that I ever did, so getting past that was my biggest challenge” said Hallam, then a rising Fulmore Middle School seventh grader and now a rising Austin High sophomore. He said the reunion on Thursday was very emotional. “All my memories from three years ago just rushed back in. I missed her a lot.” Lozano, a Bowie High School graduate who now attends Texas State University, agreed and added she takes pride that the series has continued and grown. “It was extremely rewarding to return to where I once called home and be able to see the new talent bringing such a beautiful light to fine arts at AISD.” Hallam is one of several 2019 participants who have been in all four summer series. He plays Benny in “In the Heights” and said he has really enjoyed learning the role because it has very challenging vocals. He mentioned on stage Thursday that he still has three more summers of eligibility for AISD summer theatre after this summer. “Being in the summer musical has resulted in some of the strongest relationships,” Hallam told MacJournalism. “I’ve never had a better theatre experience.”

IT WON’T BE LONG NOW

Crockett senior Josh Robles (“In the Heights” ensemble), McCallum graduate Alyks Waring (head of costumes for all three @aisdsummertheatre shows) and Bowie junior Audrey Smith (props master for “In the Heights”) pose on the red carpet during Thursday’s @aisdsummertheatre preview event at the AISD Performing Arts Center. One takeaway theme from the evening was that the @austinisdsummer theatre program allows high school and middle school theatre students the chance to form lasting relationships with like-minded theatre students across the district. More than 150 students from over 30 campuses are participating this summer. Many of them will attend theatre events at other schools to support their cast members when they return to their home schools in the fall. But before that can happen, these folks have summer shows to put on.

GOOD NOW, EVEN BETTER LATER

Dr. Lisa Goodnow, associate superintendent, and Alan Lambert, AISD Fine Arts department, promote the AISD Summer Theatre Series at the Red Carpet Preview Night. The series kicks off its three-show run with “In the Heights,” opening at 7 p.m. tonight.

A SIX PAC FROM MAC

You might say the orchestra for the AISD Summer Theatre Series musical, “In the Heights,” has some McCallum flavor. At Thursday’s Red Carpet Preview, we caught up with the six Mac members of the orchestra for the districtwide show: Chance Green (trumpet), Jon Forbes (keyboard), Madelynn Niles (flute), Clifton Pike (trumpet), Max Hoff (guitar) and Sam Buford (guitar) will all be playing live during the four shows at the AISD Performing Arts Center.

ATTAINING “THE HEIGHTS” WHILE IN THE PIT

When 2019 grad Jon Forbes descends into the AISD PAC pit to play the keyboards for the opening night performance of “In the Heights” this evening (curtain rises at 7 p.m.), he will extend his personal streak as the AISD Summer Theatre Series keyboardist to four summers. We asked him why he has devoted so much of his summers to the summer theatre series. “I just love doing musicals and being in a group of musicians and people from all over AISD.” Plus, he joked, they keep calling for him to come back and play: “I was originally asked to do it by Amon Taylor, the assistant choir director before Mrs. Mainwaring.” Ever since that initial experience on the keyboard for “The Little Mermaid,” in the summer of 2016, he said, “I love the opportunities these musicals give.” Speaking of streaks and Jon Forbes, he extended another Mac streak earlier this summer when he was named an outstanding performer in music theory after he aced his exam at the Texas State Solo and Ensemble competition at UT on June 1. According to the UIL Music Department, in order to be named an outstanding performer, a student must score 95 percent or higher on the music theory exam. Only six students in Texas achieved this result in 2019, and Forbes was one of them. According to music theory teacher Jeff Rudy, McCallum has had at least one outstanding performer in music theory for the last five years running: Nina Erichson (2015), Taylor Hallman and Lauren Molloy (2016), Paulo Santos and Calliope Davishines (2017), Matan Orent (2018) and most recently Forbes (2019). Forbes is one of six Mac musicians in the orchestra for tonight’s performance at the PAC (The others are Chance Green and Clifton Pike on trumpet, Max Hoff and Sam Buford on guitar, and Madelynn Niles on flute). Senior Sami Gade is playing the role of sassy salon owner Daniela, and graduate Alyks Waring is working behind the scenes as the head of costumes.

ARMS RACE

In a special preview performance of the title song from “In the Heights” at the Red Carpet Preview Night on Thursday, both actors who will play Usnavi De La Vega on alternate nights, Bowie senior Eric Larson and Bowie graduate and Ryder University freshman Kaedon Solana, strike a pose after the number comes to a close.

DOUBLE-FISTED SINGING

Playing the role of the Piragua Guy, Anderson junior Ari Bousquet  sings the title song during the cast’s Red Carpet Preview Night performance on Thursday at the AISD PAC.

THAT’S A RAP

During the Red Carpet Preview Night preformance of the title song from “In the Heights,” Bowie graduate Kaedon Solana, who will attend Ryder University, and Bowie senior Eric Larson, both play Usnavi De La Vega on the same stage. The actors will alternate playing the lead role during the actual performances beginning with Thursday’s opening night.

A TASTE OF “TAKE 5”

During the preview night, Bowie graduate Luke Evans, who will attend the University of Houston in the fall, and Crockett sophomore Xander Mancera performed a scene from “Vitamins,” one of five short plays that will be performed as part of “Take Five: Shifting Perspectives on (Dis)Ability. Evans plays Mr. Roberts/Dad and Mancera plays Antonio/Alden.

JUST “BREATHE”

Bowie junior Sydney Reinhart, one of two actors who star in the lead role of Nina Rosario in “In the Heights,” sings “Breathe” during the cast’s performance on Red Carpet Preview Night on Thursday.

POSTING FOR POSTERS

At last night’s Red Carpet Preview Night, media interns Rebekah Wood and Emily Robinett encourage audience members to promote the upcoming AISD Summer Theatre Series by posting messages to their social media accounts with the hashtag, #aisdsummertheatre. Before awarding signed cast posters to the raffle winners from those who promoted the show, Wood and Robinett shared that their positive experience as high school cast members in in AISD Summer Theatre Series shows led them to come back in their current roles as media interns in order to stay involved and help grow the program.

STRINGS ATTACHED

Mac guitarist Sam Buford and Max Hoff prepare to play in the orchestra pit before the stage performances begin at the Red Carpet Preview Night in the AISD Performing Arts Center last Thursday.

FRIENDS LIKE US

During the performance of the song “Friend Like Me,” from the dual-language edition of “Disney’s Aladdin,” Crockett senior Angel Gentry (ensemble), Ann Richards sixth-grader Ariana Reyes (Genie), Crockett senior Renata Gonzales (Raja) and O’Henry Middle School sixth-grader Marissa Campos (ensemble) dance in unison.

MONKEY BUSINESS

Anderson freshman Lluvia Lara (Princess Jasmine), Bedicheck Middle School sixth-grader Mason Gentry (Magic Carpet), Bowie senior Magnus Peterson (Aladdin) and Crockett senior Adilene Garcia (Abu) smile on stage during the cast performance of “Friends Like Me” at the Red Carpet Preview Night at the AISD PAC last Thursday.

PUT YOUR HANDS TOGETHER

Cast members from “In the Heights” including McCallum graduate Alyks Waring and senior Sami Gade put their hands together to show solidarity for a good show in a week’s time at the Red Carpet Preview Night for the AISD Summer Theatre Series in the AISD PAC lobby last Thursday night.

REACHING FOR “THE HEIGHTS”

Cast members from “In the Heights” including McCallum graduate Alyks Waring and senior Sami Gade raise their arms in triumphant expectation for a good show in a week’s time at the Red Carpet Preview Night for the AISD Summer Theatre Series in the AISD PAC lobby last Thursday night.

THREE SHOWS. ONE CROWD.

A large crowd of family, friends and community supporters filled the AISD PAC lobby during the Red Carpet Preview Night for the AISD Summer Theatre Series, now in its fourth year.

OUT OF THE BOTTLE

Cast members from “Disney’s Aladdin: Dual-Language Edition” enjoy a moment of play while posing for a cast picture in front of the Austin Ed Fund backdrop in the AISD PAC lobby.

AN AUSTIN OF ALL TRADES

Bowie HS junior Austin Civatte enthusiastically offers programs to theatre patrons who attended last Thursday’s 2019 @austinisd Summer Theatre Series Red Carpet Preview Night. In addition to playing the prominent role of Kevin Rosario (the father of protagonist, Nina Rosario, and the co-owner of Rosario’s Car & Limousine) in the @aisdsummertheatre production of “In the Heights,” Civatte also made the latest video trailer leading up to tomorrow night’s opening night performance at the PAC. To view the trailer or to purchase tickets for “In the Heights” or the other two summer series shows, “Disney’s Aladdin: Dual Language Edition” or “Take Five: Shifting Perspectives on (Dis)Ability,” visit the @aisdsummertheatre Insta account.

“In the Heights” opened tonight with the first of three 7 p.m. shows through Saturday. The musical has a finale matinee 3 p.m. Sunday. The following week will feature “Disney’s Aladdin: Dual Language Edition” following the same Thursday through Sunday schedule. There will also be a series of five short plays entitled “Take Five: Shifting Perspectives on (Dis)Ability,” student directed by Noah Messer. “Take Five” opens Saturday July 27 at 4 p.m. with an encore performance Sunday July 28 at 6 p.m. To purchase tickets, visit the @aisdsummertheatre Insta page and click on the link in their bio.




Orchestra students stand out at state competition

Four of the seven Mac outstanding performers at the Texas State Solo and Ensemble competition June 1 at UT were orchestra students.

Orchestra director Ricky Pringle said it’s rare for judges to name two outstanding performers on the same instrument.

Judges twice named two Mac orchestra students as outstanding performers on the same instrument.

I was less nervous than I usually am for competitions. I think it’s because I had already graduated. … I just wanted to enjoy my last performance connected to McCallum and at least not embarrass myself.”

— Maggie Bishop

Class of 2019 grad Ian Jenson and rising senior Kaya Fagerstrom were both named outstanding performers on violin, and Class of 2019 graduate Maggie Bishop and rising senior Jack Montesinos were both named outstanding performers on string bass.

Jenson told MacJournalism that the experience was very sentimental.

“It was really nice to get to talk to Ms. Shockley before [my performance],” Jenson said. “She has been such a huge influence and such a kind soul.”

“Without her, honestly, I’d have never pursued music so it’s always really sweet getting to talk to her, and that was the last school-related time I’d get to do that.”

Fagerstrom agreed that the competition was special because she “got to hang with Shockley for a while one more time before she left.”

She also said that she enjoyed talking with the judge who named her an outstanding performer and gave her specific tips on how to improve.

My judge “studied with [famous violin teacher] Ivan Galamian on the same concerto” that I played. Galamian’s name “is actually printed on the front of my music so Galamian had a lot to do with the interpretation of the version I play.”

[Music is] the first thing I did that didn’t feel like work. … It really is just a great way to connect with people and make a link between the value inherent in connecting with others.”

— Ian Jenson

Montesinos said he was tired when he auditioned because he had to carry his bass and stool three UT blocks on a hot June day before getting to play. But he said the short time to prepare for the audition was more of an obstacle than the summer heat.

“[The competition] pushed me to learn the piece before a hard deadline, and it paid off in the end,” he said.

Bishop said that being named an outstanding performer was “a really satisfying end to my high school involvement in music.”

“I didn’t take playing bass very seriously until junior year,” Bishop said.

“After I decided to pursue music in college, I started to devote more time and focus and actually practice.”

In addition to reminding her how far she has come, she said her recognition in her final high school performance was also an appropriate way to thank her teacher.

“Being able to feel like I made Mr. Pringle proud one last time , after 10 years of him being such a fantastic mentor to me was really nice,” Bishop said.

“I wouldn’t have been able to do it without all the help he gave me along the way.”




Seven musicians named ‘outstanding performers’

At the Texas State Solo and Ensemble Competition at UT on June 1, seven Mac musicians were named outstanding performers as the top performers for their instruments at the state competition.

I felt pretty at ease because I knew my piece really well but of course I had some nerves on the day of the performance.”

— Zara Terrazas-Graham

Rising sophomore Zara Terrazas-Graham was named outstanding performer for her solo classical guitar performance of “Canco del Lladre.”

“I felt pretty at ease because I knew my piece really well,” Terrazas-Graham said, “but of course I had some nerves on the day of the performance.”

Chloe Andrews was named an outstanding performer for her miramba rendition of “Restless” by Rich O’Meara.

“It’s a piece that’s different from anything I’ve ever played,” Andrews said. “Unlike my other solos, it’s pretty unsettling and emotional, often weaving through several moods.”

Jonathan Forbes was named an outstanding performer for his oustanding performance on a music theory written exam that required him to recognize chords and write melodies and harmonies.

Forbes called the accolade “another gift on my road to being a good musician.”

Four of the seven outstanding performers were Mac orchestra members.

We’ll get to their story in the next video.

TO BE CONTINUED …




Anything but VASE-ic

The face of an old woman, a bust painted to look like marble, a vase with a face, a teapot full of eyes and a woman fighting a dragon.

What do all of these things have in common? They all placed in the district VASE competition, and they were all created by McCallum students.

VASE stands for Visual Arts Scholastic Event, which takes place across the state of Texas at the high school, middle school and elementary school levels. The middle school level is called junior VASE, while the elementary level is just called TEAMS. Texas is divided into 20 districts; Austin is located in District 13.

Entering VASE isn’t as hard as it might seem to those who are new to the subject. For some students, VASE is voluntary, but for others, like freshman Ruby Borden, it is required to attend for their fine arts major.

“I’m a major, so I had to, but I also decided because I entered VASE as a middle schooler and I really enjoyed it, and I like seeing all the artwork at the end and walking around,” Borden said. “That’s also why I stayed later, to see all the art.”

Despite being a freshman, Borden brought two complex pieces to VASE. “[For] my painting, I used just acrylic paint on canvas, and then [for] my sculpture, I did mixed media. So I did epoxy, wire, paper mache and cardboard.”

Borden’s painting was called “The Little Moments,” and her sculpture was called “The Antagonist Within.” Each has a unique, carefully designated purpose.

“So [for] the painting that I did, I wanted to do something lighthearted and joyful, because teenagers have this stigma where it’s depressing and deep art, and I want to do the opposite of that,” Borden said. “The sculpture I did was about fighting with our inner demons and overcoming things.”

Sophomore Vanessa Lee, who entered VASE for the first time this year, explains the VASE process.

“The teacher suggests if you would like to go or not, unless you’re an art major, then, the teacher gives you some paperwork asking different questions on your piece and why you decided to join VASE,” she said.

The art teachers who sponsor their students assist them with the entry process, the preparation of their pieces and everything in between.

Freshman Ruby Borden’s piece “The Antagonist Within” features a battle between a woman with fiery red hair and an equally fiery monster, representing her struggle with her inner demons. Both two-dimensional and three-dimensional pieces can be submitted for VASE in a variety of media. Photo by Olivia Watts.

“I think it starts with encouraging them,” McCallum ceramics and sculpture teacher Carey West said. “[We help] them find a piece that they think is suitable, then we sign them up digitally and help them through that process, check their UIL qualifications, and then, when it gets closer to the event, we start helping them prepare the pieces. Up to the point where they get interviewed, we’re there to fix any problems, or get them on the right track or make sure they’re in the right place. After that, it’s all up to them in the interviewing and judging.”

This year, the high school level VASE for Austin ISD took place on March 2 at San Marcos High School. State VASE will take place on April 26 and 27 at the same location, lasting a majority of the afternoon and involving a good amount of patience from the artists.

“You go on a bus to a high school,” Lee said, “and you wait outside until the judge lets you inside, and then they grade you on your piece and they ask you a few questions. After you finish being judged, you wait in the cafeteria of the school. Then the bus will take you back to your school; then you can go home.”

According to the artists involved, sometimes the waiting around can actually be more fun than the contest.

“I got to see a few of my friends from my old school, and I miss talking to them,” Lee said. “I actually reconnected with my friend. We took drawing class together back in middle school.”

A variety of 3D pieces can be entered in VASE along with 2D pieces. This includes ceramics, sculptures, fibers and many other media. Junior Graham Protzmann took advantage of the 3D categories by entering his ceramic piece, which will be advancing to state.

“I did [VASE] last year when I was in Ceramics 1, and it was pretty fun. My friends who are art majors did it, and it just seemed like fun,” Protzmann said.

Protzmann is actually a tech major, which only added to his surprise over his state advancement news.

[My piece] was a prismacolor portrait of my two best friends. I was just thinking about who I wanted to draw next, and I hadn’t drawn my friends yet. It was my way of showing them how much they mean to me.”

“It was cool because I wasn’t really expecting it at all,” Protzmann said. “[My piece] was a set of three ceramic things. There was a bowl, a plate and a jar, and they were all glazed in the same way. It was a couple of pieces from different projects, and then I glazed them all the same way to make them a set. [The technique] was a kind of glazing thing that I’d never tried. I asked the teacher how it would turn out, and she didn’t know either. I just wanted to see what would happen.”

Freshman Gage Sanchez is another one of many artists from McCallum who had a piece or two make it to state. Both of his pieces, he said, captured the essence of everyday life by romanticizing the constants in his life.

“I had a painting in acrylic, with my dog, and a clay sculpture of my friend’s head with a city on top,” Sanchez said. “I used regular clay, polymer clay, epoxy, acrylic paint.”

For Sanchez’s pieces “Urbanization” and “Just a Bit of Contrast,” he explained that the pieces held an additional meaning for him.

“My sculpture was more about global change, how it’s affecting kids and how kids could learn to change just slightly in their day to help our world,” he said.

Another McCallum student advancing to state VASE is sophomore Bridget Russo.

“I did an embroidery piece where I just sewed on a canvas of my sister, and I did a mosaic-style piece where I cut pieces of paper out that were different colors and glued them to look like this photo I took in Spain of some fountain,” Russo said. “You get scored one through four, and both [of my pieces] got fours. From the fours, [the judges] pick which ones go to state. Both of them got a silver seal, which means they’ll both advance to state.”

Of course, art’s purpose and importance varies from artist to artist and from piece to piece. Lee said her art was a way of communicating her appreciation of loved ones.

“[My piece] was a prismacolor portrait of my two best friends,” Vanessa Lee said about her piece entitled “My Sisters.” “I was just thinking about who I wanted to draw next, and I hadn’t drawn my friends yet. It was my way of showing them how much they mean to me.”

Students said they appreciated the experience of having their personal art analyzed, celebrated and appreciated. After all, the face of an old woman, a bust looking like marble, a vase with a face, a teapot full of eyes and a woman fighting a dragon all have more in common than they seem.




An archive of ‘Artistically speaking’




From Mac to ZACH

The ZACH Theatre Pre-Professional Company, or PPC, held its annual showcase performance on the weekends of May 17-19 and May 24-26. The cast, which was comprised of middle school and high school actors from the greater Austin area, included 11 McCallum actors: Lilah Guaragna, Lila Grace Plummer, Aydan Howinson, Hannah Hufford, Helena Laing, Owen George Scales, Abigail Lerma, Isabela Diago, Emma Wallace, Amelia Paul and Sophia Mullican in the production.

 

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FROM MAC TO ZACH: Members of the Zach Theatre Pre-Professional Company performed the second performance of its spring showcase, “Feedback: Too Loud to Ignore,” a medley of pop songs and songs of revolt that at their core challenge the social issues of today. Among the issues sung about were trivial matter like teenage relations all the way to serious social issues like gun violence at schools and hate and war around the world. Eleven of the show’s performers were @macfinearts Academy theatre majors: (2) sophomore Isabela Diago, freshman Lila Plummer and sophomore Emma Wallace(3) junior Owen Scales, (4) freshman Lila Plummer, (5) senior Hannah Hufford, (6) junior Abigail Lerma, (7) sophomore Helena Lang, (8) junior Amelia Paul, (9) junior Lilah Guaragna, sophomore Aydan Howinson, (10) senior Sophia Mullican and (not pictured) freshman Alysa Spiro. #dayinthelifeatmac #zachtheateraustin @zachtheatre

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The show Feedback was a musical filled with an assortment of songs that had messages but all touched on the theme of rebellion and expressed a young perspective on world events. The McCallum actors in this show ranged in experience from seasoned veterans such as Hannah Hufford, Owen Scales and Lilah Guaragna, to newcomers such as Isabela Diago and Lila Grace Plummer.

For Diago, the showcase was her first show with the PPC. The rising junior hopes to continue to act in more ZACH Theatre performances. She was cast last week in the vocal ensemble for Mac Theatre’s fall musical production, Jekyll and Hyde.

Everybody’s really friendly, and it was a family.”

— Isabela Diago on her first ZACH Theatre experience

“It was really fun, and I wasn’t really in a lot of numbers,” Diago said. “I enjoyed having a fun time with my friends. It was a really cool experience.”

The ZACH Theatre PPC is a program for middle and high school students that works to train students in dance and theater education and is a close-knit group. For Diago, this family atmosphere was apparent from the get go.

“Everybody’s really friendly, and it was a family,” Diago said.  “The first rehearsal I felt really welcomed and it was really nice.”

For veterans of both MAC Theatre and ZACH PPC like Owen Scales, Lilah Guaragna and Amelia Paul, the show was not their first rodeo.

Guaragna and Scales started at ZACH in eighth grade. The PPC gave them a chance to expand on their prior theatre training and to rise to new heights.

Gregory James
ON THE RUN: Rising senior Owen Scales sings as one of the actors playing Frank Abingale Jr. from Catch Me if You Can and singing the song “Live in Living Color.” MacTheatre staged the full musical in the fall of 2017.

“I started with ZACH when I was in seventh or eighth grade,” Guaragna said. “I was working at Kids Acting, which is an amazing place, but I was looking for more dance training, and I wanted to do their main stage shows. I wanted to be in Evita and Alice in Wonderland. I auditioned for the Pre-Professional Company because my friend encouraged me to, and it was really fun.”

Scales joined for a different reason: he wanted to stay with his friends who were doing the program. This group of friends, some of them upperclassmen, served his role models.

“I wanted to do whatever they were doing, so I just followed in their footsteps,” Scales said.

Gregory James
WHAT’S IN A BELL: junior Lilah Guaragna speaks her monologue about the school day and how it controls students’ lives in the ZACH PPC show Feedback: Too Loud to Ignore.

Although Paul wants to focus on dance not musical theatre when she heads to college, she said that ZACH has been a major part of her childhood. Starting with the ZACH summer camps in kindergarten, Paul officially joined the PPC in her freshman year. Of all the shows she has done while at ZACH, she said the production of Feedback has meant the most to her.

“If we get discouraged [during college auditions], we’ll have our ZACH family to help us out.”

— rising senior Owen Scales

“This year’s show [is my favorite] because it is so meaningful and a lot of our ideas were brought into it as students,” Paul said. “It’s very well thought out and I have enjoyed it.”

As Sophia Mullican and Hannah Hufford depart to study theatre at the University of Central Oklahoma and the University of Arizona respectively, the stage is set for a new crop of seniors to take the reins of both McCallum Theatre and ZACH PPC. Rising seniors Guaragna, Scales, Paul and Abigail Lerma have formed a group of friends, some of whom (Guaragna and Scales) plan to audition for college theatre programs. Last week, Scales was cast in the title role for Mac theatre’s upcoming Jeckyl and Hide, while Guaragna was double cast as Spider along with Finn Higgenbotham. Lerma was cast in the dance ensemble.

“Being part of ZACH’s program as a high schooler, and as a senior especially next year, we all get to go together to college auditions for programs for musical theater and for acting,” Scales said. “We’re lucky to have a good batch of us that get to go together, and if we get discouraged, we’ll have our ZACH family to help us out.”

Guaragna expanded beyond her college musical theatre aspirations to explain how she hopes to make theatre a career.

“I really want to work on Broadway as well as in television and film,” Guaragna said. “I want to create theater for people to change people. I really want to do that for my life.”

Gregory James
A CAPELLA AMELIA: Rising senior Amelia Paul sings her solo “Out Here on My Own” at the ZACH Theatre performance of Feedback: Too Loud to Ignore.

Both McCallum and ZACH’s lineups for the 2019-2020 season feature well-known stories with Mac opting for the musical Jekyll and Hyde and Murder on the Orient Express in the fall semester of 2019 while ZACH will stage Dracula and A Christmas Carol.  The PPC will also put on another showcase in the spring.

I want to create theater for people to change people. I really want to do that for my life.”

— Rising senior Lilah Guaragna

Although both programs bolster high-profile lineups for their upcoming season, one thing they do not have in common is their preparation process. While McCallum preps for a musical they are doing the season before (fall shows have summer rehearsals, and spring shows have winter rehearsals) the ZACH PPC showcase Feedback was a culmination of nine months of practice weekly starting in the fall all the way through to the week prior to opening, with daily practice that week. This process proved effective as the cast was able to fit in a lot of songs into a short 2½-hour show.

With all those songs, the true standout moments of the show were when the actors involved were not singing. These moments were rare and barely ever happened, but the longest one of these moments was probably Lilah Guaragna’s monologue halfway through the show. In the monologue, Guaragna discussed how the smallest things in school, the things that we most take for granted, are sometimes the things that most control our life the most (e.g. the school bell and how without thinking we know that its ring means it’s time to move to our next class). This monologue was made even more powerful because Guargna was on stage alone, delivering her speech without hesitation and with confidence.

Her memorization strategy is nothing abstract. She said has used it for all of her shows thus far.

“What I do is I do it two times before I go on stage in full,” Guaragna said. “I also write down all of my lines in order of when they happen.”

Gregory James
RISEN: Sophia Mullican sings her part in “Still I Rise” at the ZACH Theatre performance of Feedback: Too Loud to Ignore.

If you can’t wait to see the aforementioned McCallum shows or ZACH shows in the fall, the ZACH mainstage lineup for this summer includes Immortal Longings (running June 12-July 14) a story delving into the vast intricacies of the Russian ballet company, ANN (running July 31- Sept. 9) a story following the candidacy and leadership of former Texas governor, the late Ann Richards, in a hilarious comedic style. For a more family friendly experience suitable for young children, Wake up, Brother Bear (runs March 24-Aug. 25)  uses music, art and other sensory experiences to help children 6 and under connect with literature in an interactive way.

[This year’s show] is so meaningful and a lot of our ideas were brought into it as students”

— rising senior Amelia Paul

Now going into her fifth year with ZACH, Guaragna believes that her time at ZACH has been very educational

“I think I have learned a lot at ZACH, and I think they really set a professional environment for their students,” Guaragna said. “I think it’s a very valuable place to learn about theater.” 

The PPC’s latest showcase Feedback is an example of this educational environment. The show highlights the youth’s opinion on social, political and environmental matters of the time to educate and provoke an emotional response.

“I think the theme of Feedback is taking action, and it’s kind of the youth’s opinion on the world right now, so there is a lot of conversation on things like gun violence and other activism,” Guaragna said. “It’s a very progressive and political piece of theater.”

 




Artistically speaking: Jon Forbes

Music has surrounded Jonathan Forbes since his earliest years. Forbes’ father played the piano and horn for recreation, and his mother played violin and guitar and sang in the Duke University choir.

“They are big into music, and even had me and my sisters all pick an instrument to learn,” Forbes said. “My older sister and I both chose piano, while my younger sister chose the violin. My sisters both ended up moving on and doing dance instead, but I kept with the piano.”

It’s a great feeling when the waving in your arms brings the power of music you imagine in your head.”

— senior Jonathan Forbes

During his time attending Fulmore Middle School, Forbes discovered the marching band.

“It was a fine arts requirement, which you had to have during middle school.” Forbes said. “I was actually started out playing the oboe, and then my dad was like, ‘Ah, that’s not really you; let’s pick something brassy’ and chose the trombone for me, which I’ve loved ever since. This is where I got really into classical music.”

Forbes came to McCallum first as a piano major and later changed to a double major when he added band during his junior year. Forbes experienced something of a shock to his system when he joined McCallum’s band.

“Band was kind of crazy at the beginning,” he said. “I mean, even before school starts you jump in and hit the ground running. You’re at school eight hours a day, five days a week in the hot sun working all the time to get the fundamentals cracked out. It got kind of hectic at the beginning of my time being a young person as one of five in band from my middle school, so it was kind of scary; however, it ended up being really, really fun to get to have a little family.”

Junior Dexter Canning has been playing alongside Forbes in marching band since Canning’s seventh-grade year at Fulmore.

Anna McClellan
STANDING TALL: Jon Forbes smiles while conducting during the Knights’ Oct. 26 game against Travis. Forbes began conducting during his sophomore year and hopes to conduct professionally. Photo by Anna McClennan.

“We’ve gotten a lot closer as friends during band.” Canning said. “When I came to McCallum, he helped me get used to the environment. The last season of the marching band was a huge bonding experience for us.”

Within the band program, Forbes has built a reputation for being able to inspire his peers.

“He inspires me to want to be a better conductor,” Canning said. “He always helps when you need help and kindly points out things that could help make the performance better.”

Forbes began conducting the McCallum band his sophomore year.

“My favorite part is being able to bring forth the power the players wield and instruct the force through the passion in my hands and arms,” Forbes said. “It’s a great feeling when the waving in your arms brings the power of music you imagine in your head.”

Although Forbes is known for being a fun-loving person most of the time, his demeanor shifts when conducting, according to Canning.

“Jon as a conductor was super fun to watch.” Canning said. “He was always super serious while conducting. He was so invested.”

Forbes said that his time at McCallum convinced him that music was an essential part of who he is as a person.

He inspires me to want to be a better conductor.”

— Junior Dextor Canning discussing senior Jonathan Forbes

“High school band is a pivotal moment for a lot of people, because when you hit high school, especially for me, you’re still in that prime developmental stage as a person.” Forbes said. “It’s a time where you’re still trying as many things as you can to finally find the things that you love, and that’s the moment when you can say, ‘Stop looking at classical music this way. Look at it this way,’ and it opens this whole new world of showing people what classical music is.”

Forbes draws musical inspiration from composers such as Beethoven and Bach.

“I have a big connection with Beethoven,” Forbes said. “I love his music. I actually have one or two original manuscripts of his. He’s one of the greatest guys I have ever seen. He revolutionized music.”

Forbes takes great interest in the construction of classical music, especially theory.

As the AP Music Theory teacher, Jeff Rudy has gotten the chance to work closely with Forbes and observe his leadership.

“He’s very talented,” Rudy said. “I think he comes by that naturally. He works hard; he has a real passion for it. I think that passion is what drives him to want to do well, and so he is successful because he has that in him. It’s kind of a unique thing.”

Rudy praises the growth in seriousness in which Forbes approaches his passions.

“The level of understanding he has about certain things, that has certainly changed from his freshman year.” Rudy said. “He’s just more mature about the process.”

Despite this maturity, or perhaps because of it, Forbes takes an untraditional approach before he plays the trombone.

He’s sincere about what he does,” Rudy said. “He treats everyone fairly. … I think that has helped him become such an effective leader. People trust him.”

— Associate band director Jeff Rudy

“I don’t ever warm up, I just go,” Forbes said. “I found that that works for me because I get really bummed out when I warm up. Going straight to playing, that’s what keeps me in it. You know, it does still take five to 10 minutes to get into the music fully. But once your mouth gets all gooey and soft, you’re good to play.”

Besides participating in marching band and piano, Forbes has also participated in two MacTheatre musicals during his time at McCallum. He was the musical director of 2018’s West Side Story, and he played the role of Oscar in the 2019 spring musical, 42nd Street, in which Forbes accompanied the show as a pianist while simultaneously acting on stage. West Side Story went on to win “Best Orchestra” at the 2018 Greater Austin High School Musical Theatre Awards ceremony, where Forbes accepted the award on stage.

“I actually got to teach most of the songs and got to really be in every aspect, like being in the pit and on stage.” Forbes said. “We ended up getting best orchestra and ensemble, and that was really cool.”

Forbes was surprised to play a scripted role in 42nd Street.

“I still wanted to music direct, but out of nowhere I got thrown on stage.” Forbes said. “It was before I actually even got to audition as the pianist. [The role] ended up being kind of cool, because then I got to be onstage, and do my favorite thing which is play music, onstage, which people danced to it, for sold out audiences.”

Bella Russo
PIANO MAN: While playing the role of Oscar, the pianist in MacTheatre’s spring production of 42nd Street, Forbes had the chance to perform on stage in the ensemble while playing piano live at the same time. Photo by Bella Russo..

Forbes alternated from being in the pit to playing live on stage during the show.

“It was just a mind-blowing experience for me just to go, ‘Wow, I’m collaborating with people in a way people don’t normally see with a show.’” Forbes said. “I still got to act, people would talk to me and gesture to me, and I got to still kind of do the whole acting thing just without saying words. It ended up being one of my favorite things to do.”

Forbes’ directors praised his drive.

“What sets him apart from his peers is his passion for music,” Mr. Rudy said. “He has that at a high level.”

Rudy added that Forbes earned the respect of his band peers despite becoming a band major late in his high school career.

“I think that the students respect him a lot, because he is talented. He’s sincere about what he does,” Rudy said. “He treats everyone fairly, and doesn’t necessarily play favorites or anything like that. I think that has helped him become such an effective leader. People trust him.”

Next year, Forbes will attend the University of Houston for music education. He said he derived his inspiration to direct from his own musical directors: Matt Ehlers, Nelson and Rudy.

“Ms. Nelson was one of the people that opened my eyes to the world of music.” Forbes said. “It changed my life. I want to be able to do that for others who don’t understand music and help them see the power of music. I want to open the love that people have for music that they might have not experienced yet.”




Senior directors enhance their ‘Rep’

Throughout February and March, McCallum Theatre worked to create five different productions, four of which were directed by McCallum students. The Rep is an annual week-long festival of one-act plays directed by and starring MacTheatre students.

The Rep is a unique show experience; students direct their fellow classmates, rather than being directed by a teacher or supervisor.

“There is a weird dynamic because in class I am their director,” said Josephine Clarke, one of the student directors. “I am an authority figure that they need to respect and take seriously when I ask them to do something, but as soon as we’re outside of class, I go back to being a friend, who can joke around with them and won’t be hard on them or anything.”

Stella Shenkman
Freshman Finnegan Higginbotham starred as the Aviator in the UIL One-Act Play, “The Little Prince” on April 1. Photo by Stella Shenkman.

Going back and forth between viewing a peer as an authority figure and seeing them as a fellow student presented challenges for the casts of these productions.

“It sometimes is hard to switch between those two, and for the cast to make that switch,” Clarke said. “Because in that room, I’m not just their friend who is playing around, I am trying to make a product. I’m trying to make art. It’s about finding that balance: I am still your friend, who loves and supports you, but I am also not an authority figure, and I need you to take me seriously.”

On April 1, the freshmen of MacTheatre performed their rendition of “The Little Prince,” the tale of a pilot who crashes in the Sahara Desert and meets some mysterious royalty. This production was also recently performed at the UIL One-Act Play Festival. On the same evening, the eighth-period theatre class performed its student-directed production of “My Mother*%^#ing College Life,” a fresh take on the modern college experience directed by junior Eliza Dean-Polacheck with assistant director junior Sam Richter. On April 2, the seventh-period theatre class performed its student-directed production of “Shakespeare in Mind,” a series of vignettes that put a contemporary spin on some of the Bard’s classic plays, directed by senior Nicholas Heinen with assistant director sophomore Magnus Bohls. On April 3, MacTheatre performed the first of two student-directed musicals. Directed by juniors Tosh Arora and Sam Richter, “The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip” is a whimsical tale of parasites from the sea that wreak havoc on the small village of Frip, leaving the fate of the town up to one girl.

 

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STUDENTS DIRECT STUDENTS: Students gather to view the first day of the annual MacTheatre Student Directed Festival. Tonight, two one-act shows premiered: The freshman theatre one students performed their UIL competition piece, “The Little Prince,” directed by Joshua Denning and guest director Robin Antil. Following “The Little Prince” was the eighth-period student-directed performance of “My Mother #*!^%#! College Life” directed by juniors Eliza Dean-Polacheck and Sam Richter and technical directed by junior Lilah Guaragna. The shows will continue every night this week in the FABT theater from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. premiering two different shows each night. Photos by Stella Shenkman. #dayinthelifeofmac #studentdirected #mactheatre @mactheatremfaa

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Every year, there is one student-directed musical that also has a book, music and lyrics written entirely by a student. The process of creating an original work independently as a team of students can be a daunting endeavor.

“Writing the music is difficult because you have to come up with someone entirely from scratch,” senior member of the writing team Matthew Hernandez said. “It’s also challenging to collaborate with the book team, which is hard because you’re not involved with what they’re doing, and you have to create one piece together.”

On April 4, the thespians performed the second student-directed musical, “The Waiting Room.” Directed by Josephine Clarke and assistant directed by Meiriona Maddy, “The Waiting Room” is the original musical written entirely by MacTheatre students. “I directed a musical last year, ‘One Good Day,’” Clarke said. “But this is a totally different experience because this show is student-written. So we’re taking these songs that I’ve heard plunked out on the piano so many times, and words that I’ve read so many times that they’ve lost so much meaning, but then I give it to the cast, and they run with it, and they do so many unique things that I never pictured.”

 

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WAITING ROOM: Concluding MacTheatre’s annual week-long student directed festival, “Waiting room” debuted Thursday night in the FABT theatre. The completely student composed, written, and directed musical featured the musical theatre classes collaborative work. Photos by Dashel Beckett. @mactheatremfaa #dayinthelifeofmac #mactheatre #studentdirected

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The student directors also faced specific challenges due to time restraints. The rehearsal process for the student-directed shows is significantly shorter than most mainstage productions. This gives directors less time to solidify their visions and bring them to the stage. Time contraints can also limit actors by giving them fewer rehearsals and less time to learn their lines and music.

“The amount of time we had was very short,” said junior director Tosh Arora. “The score is really difficult and intricate, and the music doesn’t help the actors to learn their parts.”

The experience of participating in a student-directed production provided a unique opportunity for student leadership and teamwork in theatre. MacTheatre students can work together independently to create their own productions, which they otherwise would not be able to do.

“I think the most exciting thing is getting to work with the breadth of my class,” senior director Nicholas Heinen said. “It’s nice to be able to interact with everyone in the class for once.”

 

 

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SHAKESPEARE IN THE FABT: The debut of the student directed production of “Shakespeare In Mind” took place last night in the FABT theatre, kicking off the 2nd night of the annual MacTheatre Student Directed Festival. Directed by senior Nicholas Heinen and sophomore Magnus Bohls, the production was put on by the 7th period theatre class. “The way that we did the show was not the original way the scenes were compiled.” Bohls said. “It was really fun to get the chance to work with that with everyone.” Photos by Dashel Beckett, reporting by Stella Shenkman. #dayinthelifeofmac #mactheatre #studentdirected @mactheatremfaa

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Art imitates life in path to prison play

On two Saturdays in March—the 9th and the 16th—McCallum students filed into the rows of the audience, tickets and name tags in tow. Within the walls of the Kleberg Building at the Zach Scott Theatre, Notes From the Field was about to begin. Notes from the Field is a play written by Anna Deavere Smith, and consists of 16 characters played by an all-black cast of four actors.

Notes from the Field is a theatrical performance about the school to prison pipeline. It explores 16 different experiences, from real-life interviews conducted by Deavere Smith. The play was wrought with emotional monologues, expressive movements and interactions and an engaging use of minimal stage props.

Students who have a run-in with law enforcement or with school-based authorities are significantly more likely to end up under the watch of the criminal justice system later in life.”

— Ethnic studies teacher Lucy Griswold

Ethnics studies teacher and chaperone on the trip Lucy Griswold described the school-to-prison pipeline to The Shield before the play began. Often, students who are labeled “deviant” in school find that that label sticks with them through the rest of their life.

“The school-to-prison pipeline is a term that is used to refer to the reality that students who have a run-in with law enforcement or with school-based authorities are significantly more likely to end up under the watch of the criminal justice system later in life,” Griswold said. “Even something like a suspension increases a student’s probability of incarceration later in life, significantly.”

Sculpture and photography teacher Carey West was the one who first brought the opportunity to students. West is one of four Creative Learning Initiative leaders on the McCallum campus. As a CLI leader, she searches the Austin creative scene for ways to show students the intersections between art and learning. In years past CLI had focused on excursions to the Blanton and then last year they did the school mural on the exterior brick wall of the gym. She wanted to expand the experience of the arts a little further.

“When I’m looking for opportunities for students to experience the arts I want to look for something that’s going to not only be an experience in the arts but also spark interest in the community,” West said. “I want the students to have interest beyond just, ‘It’s an arts event.’”

The group of students who saw the play ranged in age from ninth to 12th grade. Sophomores Zakiya Robertson and Ingrid Limas were two who went to see the play on March 9. They both agreed that the play felt very real and truthful: there was no sugarcoating.

Our country spends more money on the prison system than on education….. You show people your priorities through how you spend money.””

— AVID teacher Zulmy Galindo

“It was even more real because it was real accounts from people who were witnesses to these events in America,” Robertson said. “I was going to say [American] history, but [this stuff happened], like, yesterday.”

The scene that stuck out to Limas was of a teen girl unnecessarily and violently dragged out of a classroom by a campus officer. To Robertson, it was of a woman who climbed the pole and removed the Confederate flag from where it flew at the South Carolina state house.

These scenes played out on a bare, black stage, the audience squaring it in from three sides, and three projector screens displayed above the stage, diagonally and off-tilt, one for each side of audience.

The scene that Limas described, where a high school girl was dragged out of class by a campus officer, happened in South Carolina in 2015. The student had been asked to leave the classroom because she was on her cellphone and when she didn’t comply, the officer removed her with excessive force. Niya Kenny, a senior in that same classroom, watched the scene unfold. She stood up for the unnamed student and recorded a video of the officer assaulting her, which quickly became viral. Actress Michelle Alexander played the character Niya Kenny. Kenny was 18 years old when she was charged and taken to jail for disturbing schools.

“It just really stuck out to me,” Limas said. “Just reacting like, ‘Woah, why’d you do that?’”

The scene where the woman, Bree Newsome, took the Confederate flag down concluded the second act of the play. The stage had been transformed, a platform placed in the middle, with a chair on top of it, and the Confederate flag projected downwards onto the stage. Bree Newsome was also played by Michelle Alexander.

“Hearing that one, I [felt like] wow, that was really intense. She must’ve been so brave.” Robertson said, “There were police surrounding her, yelling at her, telling her to climb down. That was really interesting. It made me wonder if I would or could do that.”

Chaperone and AVID teacher Zulmy Galindo agreed: “That one was incredible. I can’t imagine being surrounded by people, being surrounded by police officers having their guns out and trying to climb a pole. Trying to take off the Confederate flag,” Galindo said. “You’re on the spotlight. The fact that she knew she could potentially be shot, but she decided to keep doing it because the power of the movement was bigger than herself. That was incredible.”

If you want to get more educated on the subject, if you want to open your eyes more, … go see this play.”

— sophomore Zakiya Robinson

Galindo also noted that from her perspective, none of the things going on in this spectrum or dominating news cycles are new; we are different.

“We have technology now, we have cell phones, we are able to actually see what’s going on. People are videotaping these different acts,” Galindo said. “It’s waking us up a little more. It’s not hearsay, it’s not written on the news. We can see it. It’s heartbreaking.”

Lastly, Galindo brought up one statistic that stuck with her even after she went home that day.

“Our country spends more money on the prison system than on education. I went home to look it up, and it’s over half,” Galindo said. “Is our priority education? Is our priority the youth? You show people your priorities through how you spend money.”

The play itself had a deep influence on all of its audiences. After both acts concluded, the audience and cast engaged in a community discussion where people shared how they had been impacted by seeing Notes from the Field and how they might have seen or influenced aspects of the school-to-prison pipeline in their lives or the lives of their close friends and family.

Robertson expressed who she thought the intended audience for this play was.

“Probably like the youth or cops. Cops should go see it.” Robertson said, “There was a lot of old white people. I don’t know if that was the target. I think the target was young people because we’re the generation that are going to start leading this country, this movement.”

“If you want to get more educated on the subject, if you want to open your eyes more, go do it. Go see this play.”




Winter guard brings ‘home’ big win

At the Texas Color Guard Circuit Area West Championships in Pflugerville on March 23, the McCallum color guard swept away the competition, winning first place for the fourth competition in a row with the show entitled, “Goodbye, Yellow Brick Road.”

The guard not only beat the competition in Pflugerville; it also posted the highest score in the state of the 79 schools that competed in the Scholastic Regional A division at all three of the regional area competitions statewide. Although it’s hard to compare across divisions because the standard varies, McCallum’s numerical score (92 points) was the highest of any guard competing.

The award-winning Wizard-of-Oz-themed show has collected more than a few gold bricks along the path to the most successful winter guard season in McCallum history.

“We’ve won all our shows, with the exception of our very first contest, but we also didn’t have our show completed and at that time, our uniforms or our floor done,” said senior co-captain Claire Rudy, who also happens to be director Rudy’s daughter. “I’m really proud of our group and getting to see how everyone pulled together in the end. It became a lot more about finding a deeper and more personal connection to the show, and it was amazing to see everyone bring their all and start fighting for how they wanted to be.”

Patrice Jones
At the end of the show, Dorothy, played by senior Claire Rudy, jumps into the Scarecrow‘s (senior Henry Stanford) arms before going home to her aunt (senior Emily Freeman). “What our instructor writes for us to perform really inspires the guard to have a show that means something to them,” said senior Claire Rudy.

There was no state competition for the guard’s competition category this year, so the area championship was the guard’s last chance to compete in 2019.

The morning of the area competition started with the drive to Hendrickson High School, followed by some warm-ups. Those interviewed said that the environment was lively due to of the excitement and nerves in the air. Before they could perform, guard members had to bring out their floor that they built at the beginning of the competition season. Jeff Rudy said he was confident in the guard’s abilities, but as the performance unfolded he understood he was witnessing something special.

“About halfway through the show, I knew that they were having a really good run,” Rudy said. “As it got closer and closer to the end, I thought, ‘Yeah, we’re gonna do this.”

Director Rudy said the quality of the team’s performance could be seen in the judge’s scores. Each component of the performance is judged twice: first on the show’s concept and second on how well the guard executed the concept. McCallum’s execution scores were higher than the concept scores in all categories.

“If you listen to the equipment tape … at the end of it, there’s this real emotional scene where Claire says goodbye to the Scarecrow, then she runs over to Auntie Em; [we] added that character for last two weeks of the season,” Jeff Rudy said. “It’s real emotional. One of the judges was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m going to cry,’ and she did, and it was funny on that tape.”

The emotions of the show come from the theme, ‘Home.’ The instructors created a show that combined Sara Bareilles’ cover of the song “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” originally by Elton John, and elements from the actual story of The Wizard of Oz.

The energy that we all put into this show has really paid off, and I knew no matter what our score was that it was the best show we could’ve had.”

— Sydney Bunce

“If you listen to that song, we kind of did a twist on it,” Rudy said. “Originally when we had it, we were gonna go with these Dorothy costumes; they were gonna be brown, and everything was in earthy tones and subdued, because it fit the mood of the music better. However, then we had a problem with our uniform company, and we ended up not going with those uniforms, and we found these others that were actual Dorothy costumes.”

Along with the Dorothy costumes making up the bulk of the guard, there were two distinct characters: the scarecrow, played by senior Henry Stanford, and Auntie Em, played by Emily Freeman. Due to a shoulder injury earlier in the season, Freeman was unable to perform, but she still found a role in which she could lead the other members of the team.

“Not being able to perform was difficult, but it was interesting to still be a part of the show in a different way,” Freeman said.

Senior co-captain Sydney Bunce says that throughout all the awards, she has never lost sight of what matters most: her commitment to the color guard family: “I do it for the underclassmen,” Bunce said. “More than half of our team is made up of freshman and sophomores, and being able to help them learn and grow and see their faces when they announce our scores makes all the hard work and any of the frustration worth it.”

Bunce said that it has been rewarding to see the winter guard program evolve, and she feels that they truly were at their best during the area competition.

“[While we were waiting for the scores to be announced] I was thinking about how hard we’ve all worked to get where we are and how much the program has changed since my sophomore year when it started,” Bunce said. “The energy that we all put into this show has really paid off, and I knew no matter what our score was that it was the best show we could’ve had.”