Laughter poured out of the theater classroom as Shawn Giglio and Micheal Ford performed an original scene titled “Isabella’s 18th birthday” for staff at the “Acting Up!” theater showcase May 22.
The performance was one of six put on at the showcase, where Resilience Academy Intro to Theater, Level II and Level III theater students put what they have learned in class into action.
BOCES theater and dance teacher Kathy Muenz shared that the event was student-driven. “A couple of students asked me if they could perform for their teachers and counselors, and I thought it was a great idea,” she shared.
In addition to preparing their lines, students designed the stage area and worked on props and costume design. Some students supported the cast members by acting as stage crew, controlling the sound, handing out flyers and more.
When Giglio and Ford decided they wanted to write a comedic scene, which eventually became “Isabella’s 18th Birthday,” they didn’t know where to start. Muenz shared, “I told Shawn to name a place, and Michael to name a time period. They’re pretty creative and they took off from there.” 
With Italy and the 1930s as a starting point, they created a scene between a father and his daughter’s boyfriend, who got into a comedic argum
ent about the relationship. Muenz explained that performing for an audience is different than class in many ways, but one big difference is that for this and other scenes, the actors heard their laugh lines play out.“I’ve never performed in front of people, and for a lot of people that brings anxiety, so to overcome that is a really good thing,” Giglio shared. “This class has helped me come out of my shell. When I first came to BOCES, I had such social anxiety and this class has really made a difference for me.”
Additional performances included a monologue from the play “The Diary of Anne Frank,” performed by Abigail Gonzalez, a scene adapted from a video game, performed by Giglio and Ford, a monologue by Roger Karshner entitled “Colin,” performed by Christopher Lopez, and more.
After practicing his lines for over three weeks, Lopez was prepared to perform the “Colin” monologue, which included this line: “It’s hard to settle in and readjust… unless you’ve been through it you have no idea how hard it is for a kid to make a change.” Lopez shared why he chose the monologue, “it reminds me of my first day at BOCES, because I was in a new place where I didn’t know anyone.” He added, “This was a really good experience. I did theater in my old school and I really enjoy having the opportunity to do it here as well. I learned practice makes perfect.”
The theater showcase represents just one part of the learning that goes on in Resilience Academy theater classes. Students start by exploring the technical side of theater, including topics such as types of stages, theater vocabulary and the history of theater from Greeks to now. The class delves into plays as a tool to talk about what they’ve learned in action, including character development, the objective of a scene, and time and place.
In addition to collaboration skills, Muenz “hopes this experience gives the students confidence that they can apply when speaking to people in general and even in an interview situation or job that requires presentation.”