Themes and Stories Explored
Welcome to our "Conceptual Canvas" where we delve into the vivid world of themes and stories explored through the artistry of our productions. Discover an array of compelling concepts that have graced our stage, each brushstroke representing a unique tale waiting to be unveiled. Here, you'll find insights into the thought-provoking themes that form the backbone of our performances. Explore the complexities of human nature, societal dynamics, and the timeless struggles that echo through the corridors of history, all masterfully portrayed on stage. Theatre is an experience that relies on the power of storytelling, the magic of interpretation, and the beauty of diverse perspectives through the lens of our students and production team. The Hillsboro Players aim to give students an opportunity to create conceptually strong and thought provoking theatre at the high school level and to challenge our audiences to think more deeply about the world around them. Travel back in time and explore the create journey and process behind our theatrical productions.
The Great Gatsby | Fall 2023
Our ghostly spin on the classic novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald was directed by Will Butler and featured a live band playing post modern jazz music conducted by Gillian Garnowski. Readers and audiences have been captivated by this tale of obsession, danger, and greed since 1925. Conceptually, we wanted to capture the breathtaking glamour and the decadent excess of the Jazz Age while also showing that concealed beneath its surface is a haunting narrative—a testament to the elusive nature of the American Dream. There are corrosive effects of the relentless pursuit of wealth and status. After learning that the words “ghost” or “ghostly” appear 10 times in the original novel with 14 references to pale, 8 vanishes, 8 groans, and 4 hauntings we knew exactly how we wanted our version of this story to unfold. Working on this modern tragedy, we also considered the question, "Why does humanity continue to return to the tradition of tragedy in our art?" Aristotle argued that tragedy cleansed the heart through pity and terror, purging us of our petty concerns and worries by making us aware that there can be nobility in suffering. He called this experience 'catharsis'. Through tragedy, the great Athenian poets were not articulating a pessimistic or fatalistic view of human experience; nor were they bent on filling audiences with despair. Instead, they were giving voice to timeless human experiences—of suffering and grief—that, when viewed by a large audience that had shared those experiences, fostered compassion, understanding and a deeply felt interconnection.
All Shook Up | Spring 2023
All Shook Up is a hip-swiveling, lip-curling musical fantasy that had us jumpin’ out of our blue suede shoes! This hilarious romantic comedy is loosely based on Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night and features the music of Elvis Presley. This show at its heart is about finding yourself and following your dreams. When conceptualizing, we were inspired by the idea of road trips, maps, Route 66 and the journeys people take to find themselves. Director, Kristin Butler, found herself ruminating on the trips she had taken in her past that had made her who she is today. The freedom to hit the road, explore, and see the world helps people break down cultural and societal barriers. As Mark Twain said, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.” This freedom should extend from the far reaches of the world right back to our home where we have the freedom to be who are and to love who we love. In a time where prejudice, anti-Semitism, racism, sexism, and bigotry are still incredibly prevalent issues in our society it's important to tell stories that show how we can overcome injustice together. Theatre is life inside of a pressure cooker and we know this kind of progress doesn't realistically happen in the short span of one day as it does in All Shook Up, but the good news is the hope for an eventual better tomorrow which lies within the youth of our nation.
Eurydice | Fall 2022
In Eurydice, Sarah Ruhl reimagines the classic myth of Orpheus through the eyes of its heroine. Dying too young on her wedding day, Eurydice must journey to the underworld, where she reunites with her father and struggles to remember her lost love. With contemporary characters, ingenious plot twists, and breathtaking visual effects, the play is a fresh look at a timeless love story. When conceptualizing this beloved story, we knew we wanted to use elements of devised theatre, which is a modern style of theatre that we study extensively in the IB Theatre coursework. We were also drawn to the idea of music and how it holds a nostalgic power over us. Songs make us remember and also help us forget. With Orpheus being the greatest symbol of musical genius from the ancient Greek mythologies, we knew this piece required a special otherworldly sound with surprising turns and moments that make you think about the deeper meaning of the songs. The epilogue of this piece was created by our good friend, mentor, and choreographer Denise Eason who expertly juxtaposed the feeling of an ancient Greek Chorus with modern movement and music. As they would have in an ancient Greek Tragedy, the chorus of our play finished the piece by recapping the events of the story but this time to the song “Talk” by Hozier.
The Wizard of Oz | Spring 2022
In his novel, L. Frank Baum stated, “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” was written solely to please children of today. It aspires to being a modernized fairy tale, in which the wonderment and joy are retained and the heartaches and nightmares are left out.” With this in mind, we placed our production squarely in the 21st century. Our production was a modern retelling of Mr. Baum’s iconic fairy tale. Leaning into the original intent of the novel, yet underscored by the music of the classic MGM movie, our production paid homage to the past while providing a perspective for the future. Heavily influenced by the theoretical work of Henry Littlefield, a history teacher that claimed “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” was an allegorical tale about the Gilded Era of the early 1900s, our production highlighted the parallels seen in today’s “gilded” world. In this vain, the audience members were given green lensed glasses (a trope from the novel) as they entered the theater to wear when our characters arrived at the Emerald City, which had been conceptualized to represent the place where technology and celebrity collide— two billionaire creating industries in our society. In comparison, Munchkinland represented an ethos of equality, where inclusion is the norm and gender stereotypes are a thing of the past. In our production we give concentrated power to Dorothy and her relationships with Aunt Em/Glinda and Miss Gulch/West Witch. Mr. Baum and his wife, Maud, were staunch advocates for women’s rights and intended for Dorothy to be portrayed as a strong, independent girl who is trying to come into her own throughout the story.
Alice in Wonderland | Fall 2021
When conceptualizing this beloved story, we were drawn to the unique Victorian origins of this tale. It has been adapted so many ways by so many people so we turned to the source material and the original Tenniel illustrations of the characters. Working together with our student dramaturg we began to uncover Lewis Carroll’s original intentions for this piece and the production team became inspired by the question, “What did Victorian children do for fun?” Our quest led us to the idea of Victorian puppet theaters and paper dolls and it was there that our concept began to take shape. What if Alice was watching a shadow puppet show and the rabbit hole led her to the otherside of the shadow puppet screen where the once flat shadow puppets came to life? After all, the characters in Wonderland are nothing but a pack of cards! This show was a work of imagination and freedom and delight. It’s a poignant story full of nonsense and childlike wonder and is also very much concerned with the loss of childhood which is relevant to all of us. For just a few moments, we get to see the world from a child’s eyes as all of the adult characters in Wonderland act like little kids. The more we discovered and worked in rehearsals the clearer it became that curiosity is the stuff of learning. The Wonderland Creatures learn just as much from Alice as she learns from them and that is a reminder to all adults that hear this story. The word curious to us today means inquisitive and adventurous but in the Victorian Age it had another meaning related to the temptation of knowledge and mischief which was then a very dangerous and discouraged concept especially for little girls like Alice. Today, we know the importance of the quest for Knowledge as well as the importance of cultivating curiosity in children. Alice learns that you cannot be the same person you were yesterday because you were a different person then. Though it is scary to grow and change it is also lovely and important and necessary.
Bright Star | Spring 2021
Our pandemic project was Bright Star by Steve Martin and Edie Brickell. This enchanting musical took us on a journey through the beautiful landscapes of Appalachia in the mountains of Asheville, North Carolina. Weaving together themes of love, hope, and resilience these necessities were in high demand at the height of the pandemic. As we conceptualized this piece, it had to be directed for the both the stage and screen since this would be a streaming performance. We worked hard to capture the essence of the Appalachia in the 1920's with it's lively music, rich stories, and vibrant characters. This is a story that celebrates the human spirit, the pursuit of dreams, and the enduring power of love, even in the face of adversity which we were all no strangers too at the time of this production. We were inspired by the pattern of an Appalachian Friendship Quilt which can be seen as the background to our scenic design. All characters and ensemble of the story are all a part of the patchwork of the friendship quilt of Alice's life story who come out of the patchwork as memory only to return again at the end of each scene. We invited our audiences to experience the duality of life full of shining sun and sadness, joy and pain as we explored the complexities of the human experience through the bluegrass music of Edie Brickell and the humor of Steve Martin.