Student Written One Acts: ‘Ode Of’: Generation Z’s take on tragedy

Hannah Katzke, Contributing Writer

“Ode Of” is a student-written One-Act play by Evann Penn Brown (11). Contrary to the other plays’ humorous plots, “Ode Of” tells the story of the tragic loss of a close friend. “The entire show is composed of different meaningful odes to that character,” performer Luke Weber (12) said. Performer Emily Sun (9) characterizes the play as “serious, sentimental and emotional.”
“Ode Of” is a story about moving on while remembering the value of what you have. The play concentrates on “how to continue after a huge personal loss, and how to be a good friend when you are in so much pain,” the play’s director Haila VanHentenryck said. Each of the characters mirrors one of the five stages of grief, and together, as a group of friends, they try to learn how to move on after the tragedy strikes.
Students run every part of the production from the writing to the acting, directing, blocking, set building and lighting. “One of the main advantages of being directed by students is there is a mutual trust and respect already existing between people involved,” Weber said.
“The amount of work that goes into every production is incredible and something I never understood before I joined,” Ishaan Kannan (12) said. “Evann wrote all the words but we did our best to complement those words with body language, eye contact, and pauses,” Weber said. “It’s our job to take what she wrote and light it up on stage by making it as personal and natural as possible.”
Weber found that one of the most important things for him to develop his character was to use his castmates. He finds them a great source to help make his lines more vivid and emotional, he said.
“We’ve done some very strange stuff that isn’t in the script in putting it together, especially with [my] character, and it works beautifully,” Kannan said. “Our characters have to choose what to see and remember in order to move on from tragedy, and I want [my character] to seem almost like a memory while still maintaining a very real presence in the way he affects August,” he said.
The play has a uniquely supernatural aspect about it. Sun’s character, August, can see a ghost that the other characters do not see, “so it is up to the audience how they want to interpret the ghost,” Sun said. The ghost in the show is played by two actors who are on stage at the same time, which provides different, unique versions of the ghost.
VanHentenryck has incorporated Philip Glass’ music “to make [the play] feel a little somber, and mysterious,” she said. The music ties together the theme of loss and tragedy.
The theme of authenticity unites the four one-acts. “Ode Of” conveys that theme by “looking at something and seeing the surface and what’s actually deeper,” VanHentenryck said. “Grief is so revealing that this is a really unique play,” she said. “When we reveal our true selves to others we learn how to live a genuine life.”
“‘Ode Of’ is a really important play to see because… everyone has some sort of grief in their life and everyone has to go through some struggle at one point or another, and the characters in this show provide examples of how people cope with tough times,” Weber said.
“It is a very sad play so it is challenging to have rehearsals and have the actors go to very dark places,” VanHentenryck said. “The script is beyond emotional and could only be written by someone who truly feels and displays empathy every single day towards everyone she knows, and that’s Evann,” Kannan said.
“The cast is a family, support system, and incredibly close friend group all in one. In my time at HM, I’ve never been part of a community like it,” Kannan said. The cast has been working and rehearsing weekly since November. “I hope a lot of people come to see the show,” Sun said.
“We didn’t make it to be liked by an audience, we made it because it’s beautiful, and I hope people think it’s beautiful as well,” VanHentenryck said. “I’m so excited for the playwright Evann to see her play on stage, it’s such an incredible opportunity for her.”