Do you remember when you had your own imaginary friend? From fluttering fairies to superheroes, 65 percent of children between ages 3 and 11 have been reported to have imaginary friends, but imaginary friends go away right? That’s not the case for Elwood P. Dowd (Drew Stills) and his best friend Harvey, who happens to be a six-and-a-half foot imaginary rabbit.
Cherokee High School’s drama program is putting on Harvey for their One-Act Competition piece, which they previewed for the public Friday and Saturday. Starting from early August, the cast and crew has been working almost everyday to perfect this show in hopes of taking the first place trophy this year.
One-act plays are unique in drama in that they do not follow traditional plot-lengths. Imagine an entire play written in to the length of one act of a traditional play, which makes it more of an option for competitive teams.
“Arguably the most popular length for one-acts is around a half-hour. At this length, a play can fit on a bill with a pair of other one-acts, and if your play is suitable for high school production, thirty minutes is a good length for a competition play.”Playwriting 101
A One-Act Competition consists of several schools across the state of Georgia. Each group will have 55 minutes to set the stage, perform their piece, and then get everything off the stage.
This is no easy task.
The cast and crew rehearse around 15 hours a week perfecting the show for competition. Harvey was originally two and a half hours long, so director Dr. Jodi Burn and her students had to decide what pieces to keep and what pieces to cut in order to fit the 55 minute time limit.
Dr. Burn decided on this story for its interesting challenges that it offered the actors and actresses. The story was originally depicted in film starred Jimmy Stewart who also starred in It’s a Wonderful Life.
“Mr. Stewart is utterly beguiling and disarming of all annoyance. A faint touch of seeming imbecility, which is somewhat distasteful at the start, is quickly dispelled as Mr. Stewart makes Elwood a man to be admired.” said Bosley Crowther about Jimmy Stewart as Elwood in Harvey.The New York Times, December 22, 1950 issue
The sets were made to be reversible, with a living room on one side, and a hospital on the other. These sets make it easier for stage crew to change from scene to scene in the matter of seconds. From a bare stage, the crew is able to set up the entire first scene in about 25 seconds!
The sets also can fit through the school’s doors! This is because they need to be able to move in and out of the theater for competition. They also can be taken apart and packed up to bring anywhere, and can be set back up in the matter of 10 minutes.
The cast and crew has worked incredibly hard to make Harvey perfect and the effort truly shows.
Everyone loved and cared about each other. Here are some of the cast and crew’s comments regarding Harvey.
“It’s really great, it feels like I have a second family! I’m jealous and proud of everyone’s talent at the same time,” said Monica MartinezMonica Martinez
It was extremely stressful.
“It was stressful, but it was a lot of fun bringing this character to life,” said Matheny Rask when asked about playing her character Veta.Matheny Rask
“It was stressful [being apart of stage crew], but I might do it again!” said stage crew member Isaiah Harden-Jones.Isaiah Harden-Jones
“I’m quiet calm other then the five minutes of panic before going on stage!” jokes McKenzie “Mac” Chambers.McKenzie “Mac” Chambers
But, everyone was proud of what they created.
“It was super cool, because, it’s been a year since I started drama and it’s really cool in that time I grew able to be a lead in the show,” said Drew StillsDrew Stills
The show wouldn’t complete without Harvey playing himself, and when asking for a quote from him (through Drew Stills, who played Elwood), the rabbit simply stated that he wanted more recognition.
The One-Act Competition is this Saturday, so if you see the cast and crew in their pink Harvey shirts, make sure you wish them good luck!