Education feature: Clovis students performing original play

CNJ staff photo: Benna Sayyed Darlene Barragan, right, plays the part of Ms. Plug Ugly, an overbearing teacher. Here she is getting the class under control, asking students how they plan to make life better for people.

Benna Sayyed

Lizzie Skermetta hopes acting will make a difference in her life.

A sophomore, Skermetta plays a student and a dental patient in “Are You Making a Difference?”, a novel drama created by Clovis High teacher Keith Ingram and students in his theater I and II classes.

The historical fiction play portrays the lives of six exemplary Clovis citizens.

The cast includes 20 members.

“I was in the class and thought, ‘hey this will be fun,’ so I tried out for the part, got a part and I was happy,” Skermetta said. “I’m good at acting like a scared person. This helps me play the patient role better. I can also do a good British accent and act like a dumb blond real easy.

“The play lets the community know that we (drama students) care about making a difference in the community and with our lives,” Skermetta said.

The play is set close to high school graduation. The characters are high school seniors. It opens with six characters telling the audience what they plan to do to make a difference in people’s lives.

“What we’ve done is more difficult than most theater classes,” Ingram said. “You buy a play and it’s already done. Creating our own original plays is tougher but so much more enjoyable. We basically pull our plays out of the blue sky.

“I think this play will be unique because we are in fact saying thank you and recognizing six very special people that live right now in Clovis.”

Ingram said the group has worked on the play nine weeks, including the time spent writing it. He said several of the citizens portrayed in the play have visited his drama classes to give cast members a better idea of who they will play and help them capture their character.

Sophomore Caitlin North, who plays a student and a dental assistant, said her friends talked her into trying out for a part.

North hopes her performance in the play will send a positive message to the community about success.

“The play can help people learn not to be so mean and self-centered and try to help out their community,” North said.

Ingram got the idea to write the play while writing other dramas in 2010.

“Instead of just a typical play I wanted this one to have a moral twist and a feel-good feeling as the play ends,” Ingram said.