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Storytellers play prominent roles on Baldwin High School stage

| Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Stephanie Hacke | South Hills Record
Baldwin High School junior Shaquea Hatch, 16, a storyteller in the school's fall play 'All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten,' performs a monologue during rehearsal Monday.
Stephanie Hacke | South Hills Record
Baldwin High School junior Shaquea Hatch, 16, a storyteller in the school's fall play 'All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten,' performs a monologue during rehearsal Monday.
Stephanie Hacke | South Hills Record
Baldwin High School sophomore Scott Friedman, 15, a storyteller in the school's fall play 'All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten,' performs a monologue during rehearsal Monday.

Large alphabet blocks line the Baldwin High School stage, as a multi-colored outline of a house stands in the background.

The minimalist set — and costumes worn by the actors — allows the audience to focus on the performers' words and faces as they tell a story and share a life lesson.

“It's about finding your job in life — what your role is,” said sophomore Scott Friedman, 15, a storyteller.

The stories shared on stage during Baldwin High School's performance of “All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten,” based on the books by Robert Fulghum and adapted by Ernest Zulia, will include life lessons, with humor, emotion and possibly tears.

“You'll laugh. You'll cry. You'll learn,” said senior Mark Marks, 17, a storyteller.

The show will be performed on Nov. 23 at 7 p.m. and Nov. 24 at 1 p.m. in the school auditorium.

“The show this year is very inspirational and it's a good way to look into the mind of somebody else and see what they have to say from their perspective,” Friedman said.

While the show includes scenes about kindergarten life — and requires high school students to portray a 5- or 6-year-old on stage — “All I Really Need To Know” has a deep message geared for a middle school age and older audience.

“I think adults will get a lot more from it,” said senior Kalee George, 17, a storyteller. “Are preschoolers and kindergarteners really going to get the show? No.”

Director and high school English and theater teacher Michelle Jenkins said she selected the play because it could be adapted for a larger cast. Although it was written for five people, there are about 30 students performing.

She also liked that the show has substance.

“I'm really big on depth in a show,” Jenkins said.

The show breaks many theater rules. Students are encouraged to make eye contact with the audience and tell the stories as if they, themselves, were involved in the scenes.

“They're scene partners with the audience,” Jenkins said.

Performing as themselves is more difficult than putting on makeup and a bulky costume and going on stage as someone else, the students said.

“This is one of the most difficult acting experiences I've had in my life,” George said. “It's very nerve-wracking to be that exposed to the audience.... I did have to dig really deep.”

To help them connect with their inner selves, Jenkins created theme Saturdays, where cast members brought in items each week that most represented their dreams, love and hope.

“As a cast, we'd share it together. We got to know ourselves a little bit better,” Jenkins said.

To help explain the basics of kindergarten better, Jenkins put out a request to the kindergarten classes in the Baldwin-Whitehall School District and asked students to draw what kindergarten means to them.

The winner — whose drawing somewhat mirrors the stage setting — has her drawing showcased on the show's posters and T-shirts.

“The message is to never lose that kid in you, never hide yourself,” said senior Lindsay Roadarmel, 17, a storyteller.

Stephanie Hacke is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5818 or shacke@tribweb.com.

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