This fall, the LHS drama department is kicking off a year of performing arts with a malfunctioning masterpiece: The Play that Goes Wrong. The comedy, by Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer, and Henry Shields, is a play-within-a-play, where the fictional Cornley Drama Society struggles to put on a production of The Murder at Haversham Manor. Physical comedy is a big part of what makes The Play that Goes Wrong special, but it takes at least twice as much work as a normal scene. The amount of effort required to make something go wrong is hilarious, and reminds us that mistakes can lead to some of the most valuable experiences of our lives.
When I asked the director, Jillian Singer-Wong, why she chose this play, the answer was simple: she wanted to choose something different. “I was looking for something that would be a big comedy,” Singer-Wong explained to me. “I needed the right cast size because many plays are just too small, and reading it over, it felt like something that would be fun for everyone.”
But Singer-Wong didn’t just read the script once over the summer. She read it once for each of the characters, paying specific attention to what they said and how they behaved. In this way, Singer-Wong values her entire cast and how each actor can contribute to the piece as a whole.
In her directing, Singer-Wong hopes to empower cast members to dive into their own creativity for their characters. Perhaps more importantly, Singer-Wong emphasizes how plays like these teach students to work together to make art. “In any production, the experience of being a part of an ensemble means doing what you are personally responsible for to make the experience good for everyone,” she says.
To see this positive experience in action, I asked the cast and crew to text me what they loved most about preparing for The Play that Goes Wrong. Everyone flooded my phone with responses, and few could settle on one answer.
Abhaya Kuchibholta from the ensemble loves the social element. “I love meeting new people and getting to be silly with them, also I just love the play and our warm-ups. And even when we are not doing shows, the community is always there!”
Khushee Patel from the costuming department had many favorite things about the experience: “One, being surrounded by people who all love and support each other. Two, the teamwork that goes into things like this makes such strong bonds between us. Three, there hasn’t been a single day we didn’t laugh, and four, I’m always learning new things.”
Aman Verma, who plays the role of Max, loves how relationships within the cast impact what happens on stage. “My favorite parts of The Play That Goes Wrong are the moments where the cast communicates with each other in order to practice a scene, decide what to do when acting, or just talk for fun,” Verma says “The communication really strengthens the chemistry the cast has when we are actually acting.”
Most cast and crew members emphasized the role of community. It takes a determined group of people willing to stretch past their comfort zones together to pull off such an uproarious show. Rehearsals are an excited blur of making sure no walls fall on anyone, coordinating acting with physical comedy, and practicing stage combat.
Calvin Jones, who plays the lighting director Trevor, says his favorite part of the play is the physical comedy. Audience members can expect to see sword fights, violence involving flowerpots, slamming doors, and more.
And for me, I especially love witnessing everybody’s dedication to their work. Actors are willing to launch themselves on the ground, stage crew continues to set and reset the breakable scenery for every single rehearsal, and the costumes department does constant research to capture every character.
We hope you get to experience this comedic journey for yourself on November 16th, 17th, and 18th at 7:30 pm (get your tickets here!) We all will do anything it takes for you to have a good time with the rest of us and lose yourself inThe Murder at Haversham Manor.