The meeting was busy but efficient. All the last-minute questions were addressed: Who, exactly, will wear the giant chicken suit? Will the actual live chickens make the cut? Is someone baking the mini-blueberry muffins?

For the Cape Elizabeth students in Monday’s meeting of the Theater Council, figuring out the logistics of handling live chickens during a play was just another “to-do” item on a long list filled with the more traditional theater tasks such as checking the lights, finishing costumes and running through dress rehearsals.

On Thursday at 7 p.m. Cape Elizabeth High School Theater will raise the curtain on the three student-written, produced and directed short plays. The three plays are about 15 minutes to a half-hour long, with two other performances on Friday at 8:30 p.m. and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. in the Cape Elizabeth High School auditorium.

“This is made totally by students,” said Richard Mullen, the high school’s theater director of 30 years. “They do it from soup to nuts – even the snack bar. Adults are in the background as much as possible.”

On Monday afternoon, three days before the first performance, the Theater Council – students elected by their peers to oversee the productions – met in the green room behind the high school stage. The room, named for it’s wall color, is filled with memorabilia from past shows, old, orange and fraying auditorium chairs and bright dressing room vanities. Here the student writers, directors, technicians and actors worked out problems in the program, how to get as many people as possible to fill the auditorium, who would don the chicken suit for one of the plays and what final costume touches were needed.

These last-minute details come after a full year of hard work. Last year, in the advanced theater class, students wrote 14 farces. Of those 14, said Mullen, three were chosen for production, which began this fall.

“It’s been a strange experience to direct your peers,” said 17-year-old Gina Stevensen, who wrote and directed the play, “Appointmentz.” Her play takes place in the comfort of a dentist’s waiting room – complete with eggbeater turned drill created by junior Nick Whiteman, a member of the lights and sound crew.

Stevensen, who is also the theater council president, still isn’t completely sure where the idea for the setting of a dentist’s office came from – when it all fell into place, she said, she was far from any dentists. On an exchange trip to Costa Rica, Stevenson was watching other students play an informal game of soccer. Now, what started as an idea a continent away will soon come to life three nights in a row.

“It’s all about miscommunication and misconceptions,” said Stevensen of her play. Though she said it was a little strange at first directing her peers, it’s been far more rewarding.

“It’s interesting to see what students can do,” said Stevensen. “That we can produce such high quality work and acting.”

Astrea Campbell-Cobb, an actor in “Hanging Around,” written and directed by Adam Stephanus, agreed with Stevensen.

“It’s amazing to see your peers, who maybe thought they couldn’t do it, get up there and do amazing things,” said senior Campbell-Cobb. “It makes me proud.”

The questions of the chickens – both real and fake – come up in “Hanging Around,” a play based around the execution of a man accused of abusing a chicken. The third play, “Gas,” was written and directed by senior Bogie Foden.

For sophomore Hannah Towers, another actor in “Hanging Around,” watching the first ideas of the plays transform with everyone’s input into complete productions was the best part of the experience.

As a writer and director, Stevensen felt the same way. “It’s really interesting to see that even though the three of us wrote them, they’ve completely changed,” said Stevensen.

Though they didn’t want to give too much away before the shows, according to actor junior Katherine Enna, these plays are guaranteed to make their audiences think – and laugh. And don’t let their short running times fool you. “They’re really complex plays,” said Enna.

Campbell-Cobb agreed. “It’s going to be really intelligent fun.”

After 30 years of working with Cape theater students, he isn’t surprised by the caliber of their work, Mullen said. Cape Elizabeth High School has a long history with drama and exceptional performances in the annual Maine State Drama Festival, a competition between Maine high school drama groups.

Tom Michaud, theater council member and leader of the light and sound crew, can’t wait for the first show to be over and done with – not because he’s dreading it, but because he can’t wait to see the audience’s reactions.

“The best part of doing the plays comes Thursday night after it’s all done, seeing people’s expressions and hearing ‘Oh, that was so good,'” said Michaud, a junior. “That kind of thing is the best feeling for me.”

“From the Minds of …” show times are Thursday at 7 p.m., Friday at 8:30 p.m. and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. All shows are at Cape Elizabeth High School auditorium.

Members of the Cape Elizabeth High School Theater Council met last Monday to work out the final details for the three student-created plays. From left in the back are, Nick Whiteman, Tom Michaud, Caroline LaTorre, Hannah Towers, Astrea Campbell-Cobb and Katherine Enna. In the front, from left, are Theater Director Richard Mullen and Theater Council President Gina Stevensen. Students Elliot Cohn, Adam Stephanus, Kendall Cooper and Bogie Foden, not pictured, are also members of the council.


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