Storytime for the kids

The drama department held its annual play festival for elementary school students last week.

Junior Milan Rangel (left) and senior Julianna King (right) perform for an audience of elementary school students at the annual DBHS children’s theater.

Bernard Chen, Editor-in-Chief

Diamond Bar High School’s advanced theater brought down the curtain on  another annual Children’s Play Festival for elementary school students last Thursday.

Led by theater teacher Beatrice Casagran, the playwriting and directing drama class created five plays inspired by children-submitted stories in performances Jan. 17 to 19. The class hosted a children’s story contest in October for elementary and middle school students and picked its favorite stories to bring to life, adapted for the stage.

“We wanted every story to have a theme. They can’t just be any story,” senior Matthew Lee said.

The performances consisted of the plays “The Friendship Adventure,” “HP:9000,” “Dragon and Me,” “Being Titania” and “Anna Under the Sea.” Directing, writing, acting and costume design were all organized by the nine students in the class. According to Lee, this year’s plays were more difficult to put together due to the class’ small size. Because there weren’t enough student actors, senior Nicholas Azurin also stepped in to act, although he was not enrolled in the course.

“We struggled more throughout our work, with making the costumes and everything,” junior Luke Teerling said, “But overall, we grew a closer bond to each other.”

In “HP:9000,” adapted from “Robot Story” by Isabella Ross from Evergreen, a dysfunctional robot is bullied for wanting to go out to recess. Despite the ridicule from others, she decides to go out anyway and returns happily, becoming accepted by the other robots. To create a more immersive experience for the children and Ross specifically, “HP:9000” integrated a fictional “Evergreen robotics class” into the story.

“It’s the adaptation from it. Starting off from a small scratch of a story and turning it into something full-blown out,” Teerling said.

This is the second year that the students have held the story writing contest even though Children’s Theater has been a Diamond Bar tradition for many years. Prior to the contest, classes put on plays with Disney characters instead of writing original content based on student stories. Casagran plans to continue holding the original story contest instead of having Disney plays in the future.

“I enjoy watching my kids learn how to tell stories, how to direct and how to tailor stories to an audience. They learn the whole production process through this,” Casagran said. “Of course, it’s a ton of fun to do the shows for the little ones cause they love it.”

Though there were matinee performances for the public in previous years, they did not have an evening show this year because of low attendance in the past and the increased time commitment for the students.