SORTING THROUGH THE CLUTTER

Show observes 7 2nd-graders going through life
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Leader Photo by Lee Pulaski Melissa Koziol, played by Sabrina Demaskie, talks and writes at the same time in a scene from “Among Friends and Clutter.”

Leader Photo by Lee Pulaski Katharine Green, played by Sahara Homan, acts frustrated as her grandpa, played by Matthew Schwitzer, tries to comfort her in a scene for “Among Friends and Clutter.”

One day, you’re sitting in second grade getting ready to work on an assignment for your teacher.

The next day, life happens.

That’s the plot in a nutshell for “Among Friends and Clutter,” a one-act play that will hit the stage at Shawano Community High School this week.

The play, written by Lindsay Price, follows seven students in a second-grade classroom. It is a drama-comedy that shifts from childhood scenes to moments from their adult lives, both real and imagined.

The setup for the show is a little different than what has previously been done. Instead of the audience sitting in the auditorium, ticket holders will be on the stage.

The show has two young directors, including a recent SCHS alum. Addison Lewis, who graduated in 2016, helped out as a director’s assistant with “Mary Poppins” and “Frankenstein.”

“It’s really bizarre,” Lewis said about directing a high school show a year after he’d acted in one. “I grew up in the theater here … so it was a culture shock. Even though I could be fine with people I’ve worked here with, others I’ve had to be more of a ‘director’ kind of person.”

Maddi Stuewer, the second director, is a familiar face to patrons of the Wolf River Homeschoolers Performing Arts program, and she helped as assistant director for that group and Box in the Wood Theatre Guild.

“When I read this show, I knew I wanted to be a part of it,” Stuewer said. “It’s a really fun, family-friendly show. There’s something everyone can find that they can relate to.”

Lewis wasn’t sure which show he wanted to go with for the school’s spring production initially, but once he found “Among Friends and Clutter,” he asked Stuewer to help with directing, as he is also a full-time student at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College.

“Originally, this is one of the last shows I looked at,” Lewis said. “I was looking at a bunch of shows, and none of them really stuck out for me. My mom showed this to me, and I really liked the story of how people face real life. The other shows were similar to plays we’d done previously.”

Stuewer noted the high school actors playing the seven second-graders have worked on developing different characteristics when they’re the kids than they do when they’re portraying their adult lives. That includes their posture, hairstyle, even voices to an extent, she said.

“We’re careful not to sound annoying (as the kids), because it’d be really easy to do that,” Stuewer said.

The play can be done with a small cast, with seven actors playing all the roles — not just the kids. However, a lot of interest from students who’d never acted in an SCHS production prompted the directors to go with a larger cast, according to Stuewer.

“It’s a nice way to introduce them to theater and not a lot of pressure with smaller roles,” she said.

Lewis noted that the cast and crew is relatively prepared as the first show looms, noting he’s been in some shows where show prep has “literally been a train wreck until that first night.”

Having the show be one act instead of two helps in that regard, he said, and having a modern-day show is easier in terms of set and costuming when compared with a period piece like “Frankenstein.”

“This is more of a real-life play as compared with a fantasy one,” Lewis said.

AT A GLANCE

WHAT: “Among Friends and Clutter”

WHEN: 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 2 p.m. Saturday

WHERE: Auditorium, Shawano Community High School, 220 County Road B, Shawano

TICKETS: $5 adults, $3 students