It has been almost two calendar years since Belmont Hill and Winsor students performed excerpts from All in the Timing by David Ives in February of 2020. After this long hiatus, Belmont Hill theater finally returned with the Middle and Upper School productions of Take Ten. Rather than one larger play, Take Ten is a collection of five unrelated ten-minute plays.
This format had a number of advantages. While Belmont Hill did have an active theater program during the 2020-2021 school year, there were no live performances. Performing shorter plays allows participants to ease back into the routine and shake off some of the rust caused by the pandemic. Since each role consists of 10 minutes of stage time, the workload of memorizing and rehearsing lines is greatly reduced. This lessens the commitment for participants and allows students to take part in the play alongside sports and other clubs. Lighter rehearsal schedules, in the words of director Mr. Conway, making the play a much “easier sell” to students can increase total participation.
The first of the five plays was entitled The Grand Design, and it was written by Susan Miller. The play follows a father and his son as the son tries to better portray humanity to potential extraterrestrial species. This scene was followed by Men’s Intuition written by Itamar Moses, in which two college roommates cope with rapidly evolving circumstances. Thirdly was Space written by Donald Margulies. In this scene, two friends explore the concept of space in the context of lost relationships. The fourth play, and the clear audience favorite, was Playwriting 101, written by Rich Orloff. This satirical look at the creative process was full of witty comedy and startling plot twists. The play ended with Philadelphia, written by David Ives. This play examines stereotypes in the form of characters trapped in realities corresponding to cities. Overall, the students’ performances of these scenes were masterful and reflected months of hard work on the parts of the actors, as well as Mr. Conway’s experienced direction and the diligent work of the theater technicians.
The next production, which will take in a few months, is an all-school production of All in the Timing written by Joe Landry. This will be the first full-length play in two years, and Mr. Conway encourages everyone to watch the show live when it debuts in February.