The theater department at Durango High School was a flurry of activity after school on Tuesday. Members of the school’s Troupe 1096 are in the early stages of rehearsals for their first production of the year, “Beauty and the Beast,” which will open Nov. 4.
Ben Mattson, who’s in his second year as director of the program,
“There’s a lot of excitement and love,” he says, but the kids’ energy level shouldn’t be mistaken for goofing around. “These kids are serious. That isn’t to say that we aren’t playful and fun, but we work hard and put in a lot of time.”
‘This program is a beast’The theater program is only growing in popularity. At Tuesday’s rehearsal, the stage was packed with performers going over the show’s songs, and the tech crews filled a classroom in the back as well.
“I don’t think it’s possible for this program not to grow because it just garners momentum,” Mattson says. “The more people that fall in love with it, the more people want to become a part of it. This program is a beast.”
In fact, because the DHS theater program has gotten so large, a parents board was put together this year to help the troupe by taking on a lot of the responsibilities that go beyond the production of a show, things such as marketing, fundraising, tickets – administrative things that the theater program really needs, Mattson says.
Getting technicalStudents are required to audition for every show, and while being on stage is the goal for many, Mattson said he’s noticed that technical positions are especially popular – so much so that students seek out tech positions instead of being put on a crew after not getting an acting role.
“In fact, sometimes, people decide, ‘OK, I’ll be in the show because I can’t get a crew head position,’” he says. “The tech here is a primary focus that has equal standing to performance, if not even higher.
That’s the case with Nathan Brinkley, a DHS senior in his third year in the troupe. For “Beauty and the Beast,” he’s the technical director; for the rest of the year, he’d like to try for master electrician and lighting designer.
“I always enjoyed theater; I like watching it but I don’t like being on stage – I have a huge fear of it,” he says.
And for Nathan, who after high school, plans to either go to medical school to become a surgeon or get a Ph.D. in physics, the theater program offers more than just a chance to learn about the technical aspects of putting on a show.
“I think the best part of the group is that everybody cares for each other and while we’re all very, very different, we all connect together because of this one thing we all have in common,” Nathan says. “We connect together because we all love theater.”