Arts return to J-M with ‘The Lottery’ set for performances on stage Friday

BY OLIVIA ROJAS, News + Record Staff
Posted 5/5/21

At this rehearsal, it’s just over a week before the curtain rises on “The Lottery,” a one-act play that will be performed Friday as the first dramatic theater production for Jordan-Matthews High School after taking a more than one-year hiatus because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The News + Record is worth reading!

We’re all about Chatham County, and we welcome you to our site. You can view up to 3 stories each month, then registration is required.

Please sign in below if you have an account. If not, please register here to get an account and an additional 7 stories each month. It’s easy and takes just a minute.

Our staff works hard to bring good journalism, writing and story-telling to Chatham County. HELP US! You can get the News + Record mailed to you weekly by subscribing here.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Arts return to J-M with ‘The Lottery’ set for performances on stage Friday

Thanks for reading Chatham County’s leading news source! Making high quality community journalism isn’t free — please consider supporting our journalism by subscribing to the News + Record today.

Unlimited Digital Access: $3.99/month

Print + Digital: $5.99/month

Posted

SILER CITY — Jessica Nunn begins rehearsal by having her student-actors stand completely still.

It’s an exercise with three main goals: to help focus the students, to get them into character, and to practice a stylized scene.  

“Practice like you intend to perform,” she tells them. 

At this rehearsal, it’s just over a week before the curtain rises on “The Lottery,” a one-act play that will be performed Friday as the first dramatic theater production for Jordan-Matthews High School after taking a more than one-year hiatus because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Nunn is the director of the play, which is based on a short story by Shirley Jackson first published in The New Yorker magazine in 1948 to both widespread controversy — for its shocking ending — and acclaim. As a piece of fiction, “The Lottery” has since been hailed as perhaps the most famous short story in American literature and was dramatized for the stage by Brainerd Duffield in 1953. 

“This is such an exciting thing, because when we’ve done the musicals, they’re relatively straightforward,” said Nunn, a former J-M teacher who was contracted by JMArts to direct its performances. “Whereas this really gives us an opportunity to play with style and teach the kids a little bit more abstract theater.” 

JMArts President and school librarian Rose Pate is producing the play — which is the school’s first nonmusical performance since 2003. 

“We wanted to kind of dip our toes in something that was a one-act and that was not super heavy on production values, sets and costumes,” Pate said. “This is kind of an acting workshop that also has a performance so that we could really focus on your technique and terminology and learning about theater.”  

JM senior and theater veteran Conrad Suits will be playing the role of Bill Hutchinson in the play, a character he said is “prideful and thinks tradition is tradition.” 

“It’s a little weird to get back into things because we’ve been out of that for so long,” Suits said of preparing for a performance, post-COVID. “It’s a little sad because we didn’t get to do the other show that we had planned” — the musical “Oklahoma!” — “but all in all, it’s not that bad. It’s pretty fun getting back into it, and I’m excited to put on the show.” 

As a senior, Suits said he was sad that this was his final production, but he is looking forward to continuing his education at Appalachian State University. 

The 30-minute piece will have two performances, one at 5:30 p.m. and the other at 6:30 p.m., on Friday, May 7, in the Jordan-Matthews Auditorium — a pivot from the original plan of having the play outside in the Jordan-Matthews Cafeteria Courtyard. The recent lifting of some COVID restrictions and the school’s pandemic guidelines made it possible to move the performance indoors. 

The performance is free, but tickets will need to be reserved online since there is limited seating to comply with COVID-19 guidelines. About 80 seats are available for each performance.   

Suits and the other actors will be wearing masks onstage — which adds another layer to the obstacle of projection, enunciation and facial articulation in acting, said Nunn, who’s proud of the students and how adaptive they’ve been.   

“It always baffles and amazes and astounds me how resilient teenagers are,” she said. 

Despite this being a work of fiction, Pate said that the performance has some relevance to today’s current events, a part of the reason why they went ahead with the show. She hopes it resonates with the audience with the pandemic being “fresh in people’s minds.”

“I want our actors and our audience to feel the emotional weight of this piece,” she said. “And the tension that comes with ‘To what degree is your community willing to sacrifice for its prosperity and comfort?’ which just keeps being relevant to the lives that we live here.” 

For more information, visit: https://www.jmarts.org/events.

Comments

No comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here
Please log in or register to add your comment