Drama Class Recreates Ping Chong Theater


Travis Ward, Journalist

On March 29, Sarah Buttiens’ 9th period drama class presented their own rendition of a Ping Chong production. “What is Ping Chong?” you may ask, well Ping Chong is a who. 

“Ping Chong was born in Toronto in 1946 and raised in the Chinatown section of New York City.  He studied filmmaking and graphic design at the School of Visual Arts and the Pratt Institute.” (https://www.pingchong.org/about/company). 

According to his website, for over fifty plus year’s Ping Chong and Company (PCC) has created over one hundred original theater productions, his most iconic productions being those of a series called Undesirable Elements–interview based productions. 

And by interview, I mean EXTENSIVE interviewing. His ultimate goal is to help us understand that those who we view as outsiders due to differences (ethnicity, religion, culture, etc.) are all the same. 

Freshman Jenna deFontes said, “I learned that it was shining light on small groups of people and explaining more about them.”

Senior Brooke Leitner agreed, “It’s a different way to tell a powerful story.”

After studying the style of theater, the drama class decided to pick freshmen as the outsider to interview. The class created ten questions and Buttiens tasked them to choose any freshman to interview.

All in all, four consecutive weeks were put into the making of this 15 minute production. With one and a half weeks spent on writing the script together as a class. Another two days were spent choreographing,  and the remaining time was spent rehearsing. 

Freshman Clay Hushon said, “It was honestly really fun! Writing the script was probably my favorite part, taking our interviews then kind of making them into our own little characters and story was just really neat, and we could express our complaints and just general high school experiences as freshmen as well.”

Cast member Madison Fulton said she really enjoyed writing the script, too, but felt like the performance was too nerve wracking.

On March 29, the class finally got to perform their play after rescheduling due to a school conflict.

The cast consisted of deFontes, Madison Fuller, Miranda Germac, Kayla Horant, Hushon, Brooke Leitner, Will Nash, and Katie Hawayd. 

With Toby Wasmer and Nix Goddard absent on the day of performance, Buttiens filled in for Wasmer’s role and freshman Sam Ciesluk for Goddard. 

The audience consisted of music teacher Samantha. Baldwin and her music class, Principal Heather Venne, musical director Barbara Peterson, English teacher Jenna Ritter, and the freshmen that had been interviewed.

Overall, the production seemed flawless; any stutter, pause, or slip up seemed purposeful and showed supported the meaning of Ping Chong theater. The students did a very good job of portraying the interviewees’ words through emotions, as well as giving light to freshman feelings and experiences.  

“It was fun! Really fun actually! I’ve always loved acting, and although it wasn’t like traditional plays it was still fun to perform,” said Wasmer. “It also allowed me to learn the importance of tone and meaning in your voice when you don’t have actions to show it.”

When interviewed, students were pleased with being a part of this production.

I thought it was really fun rehearsing and then finally being able to perform it. It felt like an accomplishment. I’ve always loved performing and this was such a fun way to perform something that not many people would know about,” Germac said.

Those in attendance said they enjoyed the show, as well

Upon reflection, Buttiens said, “I was really proud of how hard the students worked to create a thorough and imaginative script that was true to the freshman experience.”