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Back in the Limelight


​In-person theatre has returned to Jurupa Unified.

This November, theatre departments at Jurupa Valley and Patriot High School produced plays for a live audience. Patriot performed Radium Girls from November 4th-6th, while Jurupa Valley put on Animal Farm from November 16th-19th.

Radium Girls“It feels great to be performing in person again,” shared Jenna Gage, who played a lead role in Radium Girls. “Performing online felt very isolating.”​

Live theatre allows actors to collaborate with their fellow castmates and witness reactions from the audience. Also, virtual performances were stifling for those who normally participate in tech crew and found themselves with little to do. Now that live theatre is back, there is space for set and costume design; lighting and sound; and stage management. 

Animal Farm
Hayley Brown and Morgan Sapanghila, sound and lighting leads, learned how to operate new equipment and gained the technical experience they missed during the virtual season. Jenna Piper, already a costume lead despite being only a sophomore, enjoyed seeing actors wear the results of her hard work. Yet amidst the benefits, live theatre also presents challenges. 

For Crystal McArdle-Ventura, lead actor in Animal Farm, the hardest part was delivering her lines onstage. Crystal had no trouble with virtual performances, but live theatre requires that you not only memorize your lines but also embody your character, juggling facial expressions, body language, and tone of voice while adhering to your script. And mistakes cannot be erased.

“I did two plays online, but whenever you mess up, you just press record again. In [live] theatre, you have to kind of playoff your mistakes. And that’s the really hard part,” she shared.

Still, any scary moments in theatre are worth the many exciting ones.

Radium GirlsDuring rehearsals for Radium Girls, stage managers Marly Swift and Valerie Briseno were excited and surprised by the talent of their cast and crew. “Especially when one of our actors [did] something they [hadn't] done in a scene before,” shared Marly. 

Like all Patriot productions, Radium Girls was student-led, lending real-world experience to students like Valerie who plan to pursue theatre as a career. “I think I shed a tear or two when I heard that we would be able to perform for an audience together,” she said. “It’s where I get my joy from. It’s [why] I want to come to school because I get to do this after.”

Animal Farm cast photo Alexa Masi, who performed in Animal Farm, likes that her role included comedic moments for the audience. “I love being on stage. I love seeing the [audience’s] reactions,” she said. This time, that audience included judges from the California Educational Theatre Association (CETA). JVHS entered Animal Farm into the CETA Festival, and judges attended a performance to score students in multiple categories.

Above all, the community that students build together through each production is what keeps JUSD theatre thriving.

“You really do have a community of people with different backgrounds and interests, yet you all have this common theme of being present to put on this show,” shared Jenna Gage. “It really does bring people together. Some of the best people I’ve met are through theatre.”