The newest face


Lucy Sloan, Copy editor

With no prior acting experience, unexpectedly landing the lead role in the school play sounds borderline impossible. Sophomore Jaira Stanley, however, has defied the odds.

“It was very weird because I thought I was going to get a small role,” Stanley said. “For my audition, I was like, ‘there’s no way I’m going to get Meg.’”

Stanley stars in H-F’s upcoming New Faces play, A Wrinkle in Time. Her character, Meg, embarks on a journey across space and time to find her father with the help of a few friends.

Of the many kinds of shows performed by H-F theatre, New Faces is the only one that focuses on inexperienced actors. New Faces plays occur every other winter, and in order to audition, students must either be underclassmen or have been in no more than two shows prior to New Faces.

Although these productions shine the spotlight on rookie actors, getting the lead role with no acting experience at all is an impressive feat nonetheless.

Stanley has been involved with theatre before as an assistant director and a technician, but she’s never had a speaking role.

Stanley said the change has been intimidating but positive.

“It was very scary when we first started rehearsing the show,” Stanley said. “Me going from an assistant director who is never on stage to someone who is on stage all the time is a huge change, but it’s also really fun.”

Freshman Jonathan Kriarakis plays the role of Meg’s friend Calvin in the play, but unlike Stanley, he has had some prior acting experience with summer theatre and the fall musical, Spamalot. He knows that the less-experienced actors face some challenges, but he’s confident in them.

“I think it’s a little bit hard [for the new actors] to understand how fast the play is coming,” Kriarakis said. “[But] they’re adjusting to it, I know they’re going to be able to pull it off.

Director Jill Bonavia Galligani plays multiple roles, but she’s not performing in the play: she is a teacher, mentor and avid encourager of her young actors. Kriarakis notes her importance.

“Our director is really good too, she works really hard for us,” he said.
Bonavia said that the theatre department gives all students, regardless of prior experience, a chance to shine.

“We often cast many new students in productions that are not even New Faces productions,” Bonavia said. “I encourage all interested students to audition for our next production.”
Despite having a cast devoid of its usual, experienced upperclassmen, Stanley is confident in the play’s quality.

“I’m very confident in the play,” Stanley said. “A lot of the kids I know are really great actors.”
It’s not just Stanley’s confidence in the cast that indicates the potential of the play. Bonavia holds the cast to high standards to ensure a quality production; inexperience is not an excuse.

“While I know our New Faces students are less experienced, I still hold them to high standards,” Bonavia said. “We always shoot for the stars.”

In order to reach those high standards, Bonavia recognizes the importance of being a mentor and helping new actors.

“The most important aspect of helping new actors is encouraging them to be their best, having faith in them and giving them all tools possible within the rehearsal time-frame to help them be the most successful as possible,” Bonavia said.

A Wrinkle in Time will be performed on Feb. 17 and 18 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $9 for adults and $6 for students and will be available at the door.