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Fall play reflects on the legacy one leave’s behind

If this was a persons last day on earth, what would they say?
Jin-Gil Lancey
Written by the BHS ensemble of 2023 and directed by Miller Shor, the cast bows for curtain call. “Sonnets For a New Century” asks the question: “What could you not leave this world without saying?”

When I first heard that the fall play, “Sonnets For a New Century,” was written entirely by the cast, I was intrigued. I had never seen a devised play before, let alone heard of one being written and performed at school.

On Oct. 21, as I sat in my seat and flipped through the program in anticipation, I didn’t know what to expect. But from the moment the curtains drew to the moment the cast took their bow, I was blown away by passionate acting and achingly heartfelt writing that left me genuinely emotional and had me clapping until my arms hurt.  

Written by the cast and directed by Miller Shor, language arts and technical theater teacher, “Sonnets For a New Century” asks the question: “What could you not leave this world without saying?”

It’s inspired by playwright José Rivera’s “Sonnets For an Old Century,” an anthology-styled series of monologues about last words and what we leave behind in the world.

“Sonnets For a New Century” plays on Rivera’s ideas and intentions and presents them through a modern lens, similar to how last fall’s production of “Burial at Thebes” did with playwright Seamus Heaney’s translation.  

As the curtains are drawn, lone cellist Adrien Nolte, freshman, plays a hauntingly beautiful tune, smoke curling behind them in foggy wisps.

People wearing grays, browns and blacks trudge on stage in ones and twos, heaving suitcases of different shapes and sizes with them. They sit in the back surrounded by luggage as the cellist’s melody picks up, and the first monologue begins.  

Each monologue in “Sonnets For a New Century” is utterly unique and shows just how much freedom the students had in writing what they wanted to. Sophomore Ryan De Forest rants about Batman lore. Freshman Tilly Pratt recounts the loss of her childhood.

Freshman Sonam Yangkyi discusses her experience with therapy. Junior Kyle Brown imagines talking to Rivers Cuomo, the lead singer of Weezer. Sophomore Alice Stockton earnestly examines nihilism and why we’re designed to exist.  

Some are funny, some are sentimental and all are personal views on what it’s like to be alive in the 21st century. With common themes of mental health, childhood, family and school conflicts, they’re astoundingly relatable.

Furthermore, the only way to describe the acting is passionate. While coming from all different grades and skill levels, it’s obvious how much effort each student put into their monologues. I got genuine chills from freshman Amara Shelton’s performance.  

With some of the cast having experience with previous BHS plays and others being brand new to theater, they all worked together to create something truly impactful. Although this is Shor’s first year teaching at BHS, she did an excellent job of working with the cast, which is where the decision for the show to be devised came from.

“Coming into a new school which I did not know, my priority was centering voices of students and getting to know the community,” Shor said. “I thought a student-written show was the best way to do that.” “Sonnets For a New Century” was amazing.

It’s incredible that the cast wrote these raw, personal pieces about themselves and put them out in the world. I learned things I’d likely never know about people who I usually just pass in the hallways. It was a great experience that I definitely recommend.

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