Patriot Players christen Liberty High School performing arts center

January 8, 2013

By Christina Corrales-Toy

Katherine Klekas (left), longtime Liberty High School drama program director, student and cast member Tyler Ackerson, and teacher Hannah Fry, director of ‘She Stoops to Conquer,’ stand in the performing arts center’s first completed space, the black box theater, an unadorned, large room for about 100 spectators. By Greg Farrar

The long-awaited Liberty High School performing arts center is still under construction, but one portion of the state-of-the-art facility is ready for action.

The Patriot Players are set to open the building’s black box theater in dramatic fashion with its performance of the English comedy, “She Stoops to Conquer.”

The play follows the events of a single evening in the English countryside, complete with mistaken identities, witty dialogue and an entertaining love story.

The production involves several intertwined storylines and characters, but the main plot follows the Hardcastle family, and in particular daughter Kate as she attempts to impress a suitor by pretending she is a barmaid, downplaying the upper-class status that she actually holds.

Although the play is mostly humorous, serious quandaries about social class, arrogance and prejudice emerge throughout the story.

“A comedy should make you laugh, but a good comedy will make you leave the theater thinking about the social issues which it was satirizing,” Director Hannah Fry said.

“She Stoops to Conquer” was penned by Irish playwright Oliver Goldsmith in the 1700s, at a time when the play’s themes were nothing short of controversial.

“It has a very revolutionary message, especially for the time, because the idea of breaking down class boundaries was challenging all these values they had,” said junior Connor Case, who plays Mr. Hardcastle.

If you go

‘She Stoops to Conquer’

  • 7:30 p.m. Jan. 11-12, 17-19
  • 2:30 p.m. Jan. 19
  • Liberty High School
  • 16655 S.E. 136th St., Renton
  • Admission: $7 for adults; $5 for seniors/younger than 12/students with ASB cards

The show is also highlighted by strong female leads who held strong opinions during a time when that wasn’t necessarily popular, said junior Madeline Houlihan, who plays Constance, a young woman that lives with the Hardcastles.

Not only will it be the first performance in the black box theater, but it will also be the performing arts center’s inaugural show, and the significance is not lost on the actors, Fry said.

“It’s an honor,” she said. “It’s very special, and the cast definitely doesn’t take that for granted, and we know that it’s a big undertaking, and we want to do it justice and definitely be a part of the milestone.”

The actors got their first look at the black box theater just before winter break started and it has the group’s excitement level at an all-time high.

“When I first got to see the black box theater, I was overwhelmed because it was so new, and I had never been in anything like it. It was really cool to see and know that I’m going to be performing in this,” said sophomore Andy Unangst, who plays Tony, Kate Hardcastle’s brother.

Audiences can expect a unique viewing experience in the black box theater, a simple, black, unadorned space meant to be a blank canvas for whatever group comes in to do a show.

Without an elevated stage, performers sit at the same level as the audience members in the theater that holds about 100 spectators.

There is no definitive timetable for the opening of the rest of the performing arts center, said Katherine Klekas, longtime Liberty drama program director, but the hope is that the work gets completed in time for the second semester which begins at the end of the month.

Once the performing arts center does open, it is expected to be an ideal home for students interested in the fine arts. The facility will have a large auditorium; rooms for the choir, band and orchestra; and a video production center.

“I think this performing arts center is proof of how seriously we are taking the drama program and the band program and all of the arts, and it makes me feel pretty confident about the future of performing arts at Liberty,” said junior Samantha Stewart, who plays Kate Hardcastle.

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