Kirkwood High School student newspaper

The Kirkwood Call

Kirkwood High School student newspaper

The Kirkwood Call

Kirkwood High School student newspaper

The Kirkwood Call

The foreigner

Tess Hubbard
Ellard (Cora Donaldson, sophomore) teaching Charlie (Tristan Pysar, junior) new words.

KHS’s dark comedy play, The Foreigner, premiered Nov. 30, with sold-out crowds on Nov. 31 and Dec. 1. The play is about a shy science fiction editor, Charlie, who is brought to a cabin in Atlanta, Georgia, by his munitions officer Froggy. In the cabin, Charlie becomes so shy that he doesn’t want to speak to anyone, so Froggy makes up a lie that Charlie cannot speak English and is a foreigner. Together, Charlie and Froggy have to continue this lie. Earl Byrd, junior, was cast as the character of Froggy. 

“He’s a very chipper, upbeat kind of guy,” Byrd said. “He’s a little bit on the sarcastic side, I’d say. He’s the cheery relief character.”

Byrd is experienced when it comes to performing, having been in the play Clue his freshman year, and the musical Something Rotten his sophomore year. Byrd said he felt the responsibility of starring in a play was easy to deal with, that rehearsal was just like any school club.

“Because we work on the regular after school schedules for most of our practices, it’s pretty light,” Byrd said. “Depending on which character you get, and how many lines you have, it scales up in difficulty. I’d say it’s pretty manageable.”

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The foreigner cast listening to Charlie (Tristan Pysar, junior) discuss “his kinda talk”.

Ella Hansen, junior, played the character of Betty Neeks, the old lady who owns the cabin that all the characters stay in. Hansen was also cast as Portia in Something Rotten. She said even though she was nervous to be in a Black Box play rather than performing in the Keating Theater, she was very comfortable on stage.

“When [the play is] in black box, it’s always a smaller set, which is a lot harder to use because you don’t have a big stage,” Hansen said. “The audience is right there, and the last seat is where the set begins. The energy you have from the audience is on a whole other level and it’s the coolest feeling. I was obviously nervous, but I was more excited to just be able to tell the story with the audience.”

“I was obviously nervous, but I was more excited to just be able to tell the story with the audience.”

— Ella Hansen

Hansen said her favorite part about being in The Foreigner was the people. She also enjoyed tech week.

“I know everyone says that, but seriously, the people I met in the cast were so hilarious and easy and fun to work with, we all got along so well and I got to make so many new friends,” Hansen said. “Besides that, I guess [my favorite part] would be finally getting to put it together during tech week, which is when you get to figure out all the props. One of my favorite things was adding the props to the show, because it made everything come to life.”

Hansen said she believed the performance went great. While Byrd took the workload with ease, Hansen said it was a lot to do, but that everyone had to want to put in the effort for it to come together in the end.

“We barely had any mess-ups, which is always good looking back on a show,” Hansen said. “We all had such a fun time. Our show did almost get shut down because some of the content in the play made some viewers upset. So after our opening night, we had to change some things. Most of those were the costumes and some of the lines that made people upset. Everyone in the cast is so resilient and we all just came back and we did it. It went really smoothly for the most part, besides that.”

Kelly Schnider, who teaches Improv, Drama and Technical Theater at KHS, is in charge of directing most of the plays. Schnider has done professional acting, because she always wanted to be better trained to help her students. 

“My favorite part is always when the audience finally shows up,” Schnider said. “Mainly because when I see that the actors and crew get the laughs or the audience responds, particularly in the Black Box when it’s so close and intimate. I can just tell the energy when they’re excited and they’re pleased and you can see the glow. The audience was laughing and they were into it, and just for [the cast and crew] to get the payoff of six weeks of pretty intense work and after school commitments, that’s one of my favorite parts.”

Schnider also said she experienced the struggle of bringing the comedy from paper to real life. She brought up the saying, “Dying is easy, comedy is hard.”

“When you read the play aloud, we can see that it’s funny,” Schnider said. But putting it on its feet and staging it is totally different. And there’s that part where you feel like it’s never going to come together, the lines aren’t quite on, the staging is not quite right, everyone’s kind of struggling, and you can hear it in your mind that it’s supposed to be funny, but it’s not funny. How can we help the audience find the humor in it? Pacing and timing.

“Once you push through, then it starts to take off and it’s exciting.”

— Kelly Schnider

Byrd said he could definitely see the play’s humor. Previous shows he participated in were also comedies, but The Foreigner had a much different humor.

“A lot of the scenes have multilayered humor, and digging through the script you start to understand different jokes at different points, and things click as to why it’s funny,” Byrd said. “The subject matter is simultaneously a very heavy matter, but it’s also a very funny play. I enjoyed that entire experience.”

Schnider said she loves seeing the Aha! moments that an actor has during rehearsal. In other words, when an actor makes a realization in the moment about their character or a choice their character makes.

“You see them make a huge leap in their character,” Schnider said. “Those are the moments every actor has, but watching those moments happen when they get more excited and they start to know that they can do it and believe in themselves, that’s gold for me.”

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Grayci Branam, news writer
She/Her Hobbies and Interests: reading, writing Favorite song: Magnolia Favorite Quote: “Cut me open and the light streams out. Stitch me up and the light keeps streaming out between the stitches.” -Richard Siken
Tess Hubbard, managing editor
She/Her Hobbies and Interests: field hockey, best buddies, mock trial, art, photography Favorite movie: Jumanji Welcome to the Jungle Favorite Quote: "“How do we change the world?… One random act of kindness at a time.” -Morgan Freeman
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