Student-written play takes the stage

Millard West drama performs H+


Haden Batchelder

Carlie Kottich plays the character of Ally, a surgeon who specializes in human enhancement. She is pictured carefully working on some new developments. “Before H+, I haven’t had to memorize big chunks of text or perform on stage for that long,” Kottich said. “Getting used to being in front of an audience for an hour was difficult but I focused on acting and that helped cure some stage fright.”

Anna Blumenthal, Staff Reporter

On the nights of Thursday, February 21st and Friday, February 22nd, the Millard West Drama Department performed the play H+ in the Black Box theater. The show is a two-person play and was written by a Millard West alumni, Monte Montelegre. 

In the play, the character Ally, played by junior Carlie Kottich, is a surgeon who specializes in technological augmentation. A politician named John, played by junior Caleb Eschliman, stumbles across her practice when he searches for a surgeon who can fix one of his lungs. A relationship soon unfolds between the two in which John grows more and more hungry for enhancements made by Ally

The dramatic play aims to explore all the qualities that make us human. The contrast between Ally, who is made up of mainly robotic parts, and John, who becomes less humane as time passes, is what keeps this storyline alive. The actors had to work hard throughout the rehearsal process to develop their characters and bring this story to the stage.

  H+ was a two person play, which means once I memorized my lines and cues I basically had to memorize the entire script including many back and forth conversations and a three-page monologue,” Eschliman said. “It was very challenging to retain the lines while trying to remember the blocking as well as how to convincingly play the character. However, the magic of theatre kicked in and everything seemed to work opening night.”

These strong themes presented in the show were exciting for both actors and directors to try to tackle in the show.

“I thought this play was just so smart,” director Brooke Phillips said. “It was on a topic I hadn’t studied much about and it felt so new and futuristic, yet was also super relatable. I loved that it dabbled in politics while not getting too in your face with the message and really focused on the building of one relationship slowly over time. The themes of power, greed and what makes us human are great topics for debate and this was a play that after I read it, made me want to discuss. That’s how we hoped the audiences would feel after seeing it as well.”

This show was unique from others due to the fact that a Millard West alumni had written it. On top of making sure blocking and lines were memorized, the actors had an additional challenge of having to perform for the author of the script. With the rehearsal days dwindling down, this pressure both excited and caused fear for the actors.

“To have the author in the audience is really stressful acting-wise, because with so much dialogue, words get jumbled and we mess up,” Kottich said. It’s easy to say ‘the audience won’t know’ but the author definitely knows. That definitely weighs on your mind as a performer, but on the other side, you get to see how excited that person is that their story comes to life.”

Crew members of the show had the opportunity to create designs for the show that were unlike anything else. From building a set that could be easily transported to finding wild props such as a drone, people behind the curtain worked tirelessly to make pieces that would bring the style of this show to life.

“I worked on costume and makeup crew for this show and we had to figure out the look for the characters of Ally and John,” senior Elaina Woods said. “My crew tried out many different designs that would match the technological pieces of the script before finding the best one.”

This play was unlike anything the drama department had ever done before but in the end, the actors felt as though it had paid off. Performers and crew members got to showcase their hard work in front of members of the local community. These students will continue to improve the show in the month to come because it will be reprised for one final performance at the All Millard Theater Festival on March 28th.