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Bellevue High drama goes global | Drama department preps ‘Return To The Forbidden Planet’ for festival in Scotland
The Bellevue High School drama department is in the midst of prepping their spring musical. But for the 37 cast and crew members participating in this production, there’s a lot more at stake than an auditorium full of rowdy high school students. In addition to performing for their classmates this May, the group is preparing for a once in a lifetime trip to Scotland in August - where they’ll perform at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
Established in 1947, the festival takes place annually in Scotland’s capital. Recognized as the largest arts festival in the world, the Fringe is a showcase for the performing arts, particularly theatre and comedy.
Drama Director David Kline said the students auditioned for the current production - a Science Fiction re-telling of William Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” called “Return To The Forbidden Planet” - in September. With the exception of a few breaks, the students have been working on the musical ever since.
Out of more than 2,300 applicants, Bellevue’s drama department is one of just 33 schools in North America invited to perform at the festival this year.
Although Bellevue’s program has made a name for its original material over the past 10 years, Kline said the festival suggested they not perform original material during their first year. It’s for this reason, among others, Kline selected “Forbidden Planet” for his class to perform.
“It combines a variety of skills these students have to offer,” Kline said. “Music, language, dance and a sense of humor.”
In preparation for the festival, organizers also suggested participants take their show on tour to better prepare for unfamiliar venues and audiences.
This was something that came second nature for the drama students at Bellevue, who’ve been working, more or less, as a traveling troupe.
Citing the absence of a proper performing arts center at Bellevue - it has been under construction for the past three years - Kline said his students have performed at every high school in the district.
Expanding on the unknown factors that may arise at the festival, Kline didn’t seem worried. In fact, he emphasized the adaptability of his actors, explaining they’ve used hallways and parking lots as rehearsal space in the past.
Bellevue’s new Performing Arts Center opens May 1; “Return To The Forbidden Planet” will open there on May 14 at 7:30 p.m.
In addition to their four performances at the festival, Kline said the students will have a number of sight-seeing opportunities during the 12-day trip.
Locations on their agenda include the Edinburgh and Stirling castles, the Scottish Highlands and the café where J.K. Rowling wrote the Harry Potter series. They’ll also be spending a few days in London, where they will see a production at the West End and tour Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre.
Kline said the experience of seeing his students perform on an international stage is what he is looking forward to most about the trip.
And if festival organizers like what they see, it’s likely they’ll ask Bellevue to return in the future.