This past fall the Theatre III and IV classes put on their own unique version of the short story written by Shirley Jackson, “The Lottery.” After competing in Virginia High School League (VHSL) Districts against eight different schools on January 21, Yorktown placed second, qualifying them to advance to the VHSL Regional Competition. Though the stakes were high at Districts, they only get higher moving forward.
“While districts is stressful and a lot more specific than just performing it in our own auditorium, regionals is a completely different story. We are not going to know what the stage looks like and how our [staging] is going change until the day of the performance. The schools that are there all placed at their districts, so the intensity of the whole completion is amped up. The judges will be harsher and the acting and story have to be even clearer than at districts,” Theatre III student and junior Ellie Hobday said.
The show that was performed during October has been rearranged dramatically in preparation for the upcoming January and February performances. The author of the original version of “The Lottery,” Shirley Jackson, who was portrayed as the narrator previously, and a wolf character have been taken out of the story due to copyright issues. Along with the removal of characters, abstractions of the play were replaced due to a lack in connection to the plot without the characters. These changes in major characters and parts of the show may seem like a setback, but the performers and directors are taking it in stride. Now the show places an emphasis on how the town’s people’s thoughts can be skewed due to the appeal of being a part of a bigger group, giving a whole new meaning to the play.
“My favorite part of the show so far has been getting to explore the mindset of my character, Tessie Hutchinson. She is one of two people in the town who try to actively oppose the lottery, … It’s been insanely cool and challenging being able to portray and work on a character like Tessie, whose circumstances are so extreme and far removed from any life I have ever known. For me as an actor, playing Tessie has been a welcome challenge, as I have to force myself to see aspects of her in the people all around me, and those in films, current events, etc. It’s really helped me expand my idea of what it means to be a member of the human race, and deepens my sense of empathy,” Theatre IV student and senior Elizabeth Woolford said on how the level of thought brought to her character has affected her.
Furthermore, the addition of work placed on the students by the continuing performance of this piece is starting to get difficult for those who are also taking part in the spring musical, Pippin. A doubling of rehearsals seems like a large time commitment but the students are happy to do both as advancing to Regionals is a huge accomplishment and of course working with their peers is a bonus.
“We all worked together to create a town of villagers each with their own story and motivations. Through this knowledge of our subtext we were able to be a cohesive group, both onstage and off of it. I’ve also loved getting to know some of the seniors better,” Hobday said.
Catch the next Regional performance of The Lottery and root on our very own at Patriot High School in Nokesville, Virginia on Saturday, February 18, 2017.