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Manassas Park High School Acts of God

By • Apr 15th, 2011 • Category: Cappies

Cultural divisions and societal oppositions are subjects that manage to follow us in nearly all walks of life. To heighten this tension, you merely need to visit a high school, where cliques and groups begin to grow even more distant from the rest of the student population. On top of all this, add a natural disaster and you have one recipe for maximum frustration, a questioning of beliefs, and outbreaks of rage. Manassas Park High School showcased this beautiful development in their recent production of Acts of God.

Acts of God was written by Mark Rigney and first performed in Evansville, Indiana in 2006. The emotional play follows twelve high-school students, divided down the middle between the “trailer trash” and the “rich kids,” as they cope with the devastating effects of a recent tornado. Some students lose their homes, some lose family members, and some lose their religion. All the while, tensions between the characters rise and culminate in a climax that will leave you just as shaken and afraid as those who experienced the tornado first-hand.

Manassas Park’s production not only managed to provide effective catharsis for members of the audience, but was very impressive in that the entire cast maintained a strong level of appropriate performing energy throughout the entirety of the show. Although a limited number of actors seemed unable to commit fully to their characters, the overwhelming majority of the 12-member cast brought maturity, realism, and integrity to their respective roles.

As an ensemble show, each actor was from time to time featured in his or her own way, but two of the more prominent performers were Michael Hibbs and Taizja Tate in their portrayals of Chris and Maria. Tate performed the role of Maria with readiness and intention while Hibbs portrayed the xenophobic Chris to fullness and completion.

One of the most impressive performers in the entire play was Shanna Bess in her portrayal of a heartbroken girl named Kelsey who lost her mother to the storm. Bess’ portrayal was strongly rooted in realism and sensibility, while all of her powerful, emotional peaks were properly placed. The grieving process that followed Bess throughout the show was extended to the audience, who felt her pain, especially in emotional scenes with her foil, Amanda (Shannon Kitchen).

Still, other remarkable actors managed to perform effectively with concrete substance to their characters. Populating this list was Marsalis Carlos, who played a photographer named Tyler, and Judah Marshall, who played the music-lover Jared. Both Carlos and Marshall continued with their cast’s theme of realistic acting choices while adding to the overall presentation of the show.

The penetrating acting, the minimalist technical aspects, and the sturdy group dynamics all gave the play a wonderful environment and feel. In Manassas Park’s Acts of God, emotions were tested, beliefs were questioned, but most of all, the actors reminded all in attendance of one very simple, but important, thing: what it means to be human.

by Joey Biagini of Westfield High School

Photo Gallery

Trailer Trash Kids - Frank Kasik IV as Zack, Alysa Bragg as Toni, Shanna Bess as Kelsey, Morgan Henry as Kim, Judah Marshall as Jared, Daniel DeLaGarz as Heath Housing Development Kids - Michele Katsaris as Pilar, Marsalis Carlos as Tyler, Shannon Kitchen as Amanda, Ebonee Johnson as Hazel, Michael Hibbs as Chris, Taizja Tate as Maria
Trailer Trash Kids – Frank Kasik IV as Zack, Alysa Bragg as Toni, Shanna Bess as Kelsey, Morgan Henry as Kim, Judah Marshall as Jared, Daniel DeLaGarz as Heath
Housing Development Kids – Michele Katsaris as Pilar, Marsalis Carlos as Tyler, Shannon Kitchen as Amanda, Ebonee Johnson as Hazel, Michael Hibbs as Chris, Taizja Tate as Maria
Shanna Bess as Kelsey Frank Kasik IV as Zack
Shanna Bess as Kelsey
Frank Kasik IV as Zack
Judah Marshall as Jared
Judah Marshall as Jared

Photos by Frank Vasquez

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is a program which was founded in 1999, for the purpose of celebrating high school theater arts and providing a learning opportunity for theater and journalism students. You can learn more at cappies.com.

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