Category Archives: Entertainment

Drama Programs are Growing; Are Budgets Keeping Pace?

By Callia Gilligan

Theater. Whether musicals or plays, theater is an art form, a way of telling a story. Theater can be colorful, sad or happy, include big dance numbers or stay simple with minimal choreography and small casts.

Some say Broadway doesn’t have the same appeal it used to, others say there has never been a better time for it. I think both are true. Playwrights and directors have steered away from the classic sound of Broadway musicals such as those written by Rodgers and Hammerstein or  Stephen Sondheim. Many new and somewhat foreign technical aspects, themes and concepts have been added to Broadway, with shows such as Hamilton, Dear Evan Hansen, Mean Girls and Be More Chill. These shows have pop-rock scores and are drawing in younger audiences. Are classic musicals fading? Yes. Is Broadway dying? No.

In addition to driving up the box office, these trends in theater have encouraged more young people to participate in their high school drama programs. As a theater kid myself, I think this is great. Drama departments are always better with bigger casts. This however, requires a bigger budget.  If you look at television shows like Glee that are set in high schools, the music and drama programs are often underfunded. But does this reflect real life? Are real high school drama programs underfunded? This got me thinking about our school. Do we have a self-sustaining drama club? What about other schools? Is high school theater on the South Shore adequately funded?

So, I took to the Internet, emailing drama teachers from schools around the South Shore and requesting interviews. Mr. Christopher Lacy, drama club adviser at Norwell High School, is very experienced, having directed 89 shows in 18 years. The budget allocated by the town to the drama program each year is $10,000,  according to Mr. Lacy. “The rest is funded from box office sales,” he said. Norwell does not perform musicals, which are often more expensive than traditional plays, but that is not because of the cost, Mr. Lacy said. “People these days really only know musicals,” he added. “We could do this but we won’t because I am first and foremost an acting coach and non-musical plays are a more effective vehicle for that purpose.”

When asked if the drama club could benefit from increased funding, Mr. Lacy replied, “Of course, more is always better.” Yet, Norwell seems to get by on its budget and box office receipts; the drama club does not conduct any independent fundraising.

Mrs. Gwen Chapman, Director of Fine and Performing Arts in the Pembroke School District, reported that the school committee budgets $9,500 to the drama program each year. This is $500 less than what Norwell is given. How much can you do with $500? A lot. Securing the rights to perform a show varies from $75-$250 per performance depending on the license. If it costs $250 and a high school chooses to perform the show three times, that’s $750 from the budget. That’s before adding in the cost of sets, costumes, pit orchestras, etc.  The majority of the drama budget is spent on the fall musical, which Mrs. Chapman said costs around $13,000 to produce. The drama club holds one large fundraiser every year that raises about $1,000-1,500 and covers 10 percent of the drama budget. Even then, the club is just barely producing one musical. The cost of putting on any additional shows must be funded by ticket sales, Mrs. Chapman said.

Mrs. Anita Levy-Sisk, the drama teacher at Hingham High School, is in a more difficult budget situation. The town does not provide a budget to the drama club, though some stipends are given. The school relies largely on the its box office sales to produce the next show. The fall musical brings in a lot of revenue ($4,000-$6,000 in profits) but they are lucky if their spring play breaks even, Mrs. Levy-Sisk said. The majority of their budget is spent on securing rights for the performances, so the school runs 3-4 fundraisers each year to supplement profits from ticket sales.

Hanover operates on a different model than these other schools. In 2015, the town created the Hanover Performing Arts Company (HPAC). Operating under the Family And Community Enrichment (FACE) department, HPAC centralized production – and funding – for musicals for grades 1-12. This move established drama programs at each of the elementary schools for the first time, and began to develop a foundation for the future of performing arts in the district, according to FACE director Kelly Lawrence.

At the high school level, the drama program is part of the curriculum, meaning, it’s funded by the school budget as other classes are in the school. The Drama Club, which puts on a festival show and spring play each year, is a separate extra curricular similar to The Indian or Robotics Club. The school provides a stipend for the adviser, and the club, like all others, is “supported mainly through fundraising efforts,” Lawrence said. The Drama Club operates independently except for the annual musical, which falls under the umbrella of HPAC. Additionally, the Drama Club receives from HPAC the assistance of a coordinator experienced in stage management and the support of its “infrastructure and resources.” Budgets for school shows are “set depending on the needs of each,” Lawrence said. HPAC is a self-funded division of FACE, Lawrence continued, supported by student fees, ticket and concession revenue and grants for resources used to support all productions. The HPAC coordinator position is funded by FACE, Lawrence said. “At this time, (HPAC) is unable to support that cost without increasing fees to student/families.”

“Our goal is to continue to develop quality programs in all areas of the performing arts to increase our overall budget for the HPAC division,” Lawrence said.

While this model has done a lot for the drama program, I’m concerned about the reliance on fundraising and grants. In fact, when comparing drama programs at the four South Shore districts, it seems that while they’re supported in some way by their towns, they would undoubtedly be able to do more with larger budgets. Concerned with paying off costs and putting on the next show, clubs must spend time planning fundraisers that may or may not make enough money to meet their needs. Theater is so magical for the people involved, and it would be disheartening to think drama teachers are struggling to give this joy to their students. I wanted to know if my friends on sports teams had to fundraise as well. I was surprised that the answer was yes. Perhaps the bigger question we need to ask is not whether drama programs are underfunded, but whether all extracurricular activities could use more support.

D&D Club takes off at HHS

By Matthew O’Hara

The Dungeons and Dragons Club was founded in 2016 by John Salvucci and has quickly become one of the largest clubs in Hanover High School. It boasts around 20 active members who frequently attend its weekly meetings on Thursdays from 5-7 pm. The primary function of the club is to play Dungeons and Dragons, a fantasy role playing game that combines creativity, strategy, and luck. The D&D Club is divided into three separate groups, with each group running its own unique campaign. These adventures can vary from slaying dragons, to rescuing characters in peril, to arresting criminals, to any sort of adventure you can think of. D&D promotes creative freedom, allowing you to make unique characters with interesting skill sets. D&D also promotes team-building and cooperation, enabling members to make new friends with people from different grades, classes and interests.

Salvucci, who is now a senior, was inspired to play D&D after listening to a podcast by Wil Wheaton, star of the movie Stand by Me and Star Trek: The Next Generation. Salvucci petitioned the school to allow the use the media room for the club. While the club started out small, word quickly spread and the club soon had over 20 members, more than what anyone involved expected. Salvucci says his favorite part of every meeting is when “the D&D session ends and everybody stays inside the media room to talk about all the crazy things that happened in their campaigns, forcing me to usher everyone out of the room in order to finish up on time.” As the club founder and leader, he added, “the excitement and passion that everybody has for this club is phenomenal.”

HHS Drama Club Earns Trip to State Festival Semis

By Callia Gilligan

The Hanover High Drama Club has a lot to celebrate after reaching the semi-finals of the 2019 Massachusetts Educational Theater Guild Festival. Hanover performed the play “At the Bottom of Lake Missoula,” written by Ed Monk and directed by Mr. Collin Fahey. It is the story of a college student, played by junior Maia Arbia, whose entire family is killed in a tornado.

The Massachusetts Educational Theater Guild (METG) puts on a competition every year of 40-minute short plays. Schools from all over the state perform their plays in front of a panel of judges. The top two schools from  each of  the 14 regional prelims move on to the semifinals, with the hope of eventually making it to the state final.

For the second straight year, Hanover hosted the local preliminary round, a huge ordeal that requires coordination and cooperation from all parties. Kathryn Sheridan, a sophomore who took part in the festival, said that she enjoyed hosting the March 2 prelim, where 8 schools performed. “It’s cool to see people come to our school and perform on our stage,” she said.

Going into festival, there was a lot of anticipation for how Hanover would measure up against strong competition. The Weymouth High Drama Club won the state competition last year, and Hanover was set to compete against them in the prelim. Combining acting, lighting and music in unique ways, Hanover’s performance finished in second place behind Weymouth and advanced to the semifinals.

As you can imagine, Hanover’s accomplishment was huge! Kyle Knight, a junior, was at first shocked to find out they where moving on. “This is the first time for Hanover and it was really cool to be a part of a team,” he said.

After the prelim, Hanover continued to work to perfect the production. The cast worked on their projection, Sheridan said, and keeping “onstage connections with each other fresh.”

The semi-finals were held March 16 at Brockton High School, and Hanover entered the competition ready to take on the challenge.  While Hanover did not advance to the final, several cast members received accolades, including senior Fred Trankels for acting and Peter Bell, James Kadra and Will Nunnery for the accompanying percussion.

The cast and crew deserves a big cheer for all the work they put into this show. Festival is “a chance for drama and theater students to learn from and share with each other,” said Dr. Walsh, HHS Humanities director. ” It’s a day when lots of long-term friendships are made and students get to spend time with like-minded young theater artists.” Congratulations again to Mr. Fahey, Mrs. McEvoy-Duane and the entire cast and crew. 

Highlights of 2019 Oscars

The 2019 Oscar Awards Show had some great moments, wins and speeches. Let’s touch on some of the most monumental:

The Best Picture award is one of the most anticipated of the season. This year, there were eight nominees: Black Panther, Roma, A Star is Born, Vice, Bohemian Rhapsody, BlacKkKlansman, The Favourite, and Green BookGreen Book, a movie about the struggles of African Americans during the time of segregation, took the award.

  1. Writer/director Spike Lee won the first Oscar of his  long career for Best Adapted Screenplay for BlacKkKlansman. His speech touched on a lot of topics including Black History Month and the next presidential election. His speech ended with a call to action: “The 2020 presidential election is around the corner. Let’s all mobilize. Let’s all be on the right side of history. Make the moral choice between love versus hate. Let’s do the right thing!” This was a reference to his 1989 film about race relations called Do the Right Thing. His speech triggered a lot of controversy, including a response tweeted by President Trump, who called Lee’s comments a “racist hit.”

Spike Lee after winning the award for Best Adapted Screenplay

Some of my favorite and least favorite Oscar moments were from the short films! I enjoyed the animated Bao and I was really happy with its Oscar win. The acceptance speech was simple and full of thanks and gratitude. While I was happy with the win for Period. End of Sentence as it focused on some important topics, I didn’t have a great response to the acceptance speech. Some people were thrilled with Rayka Zehtabchi’s joke, “I’m not crying because I’m on my period.” I though it negated the whole purpose of the movie. It was a cringe-worthy moment.

The dumpling boy from the Pixar Animated Short “Bao”

Overall, I was, for the most part, pretty happy with the 2019 Oscars. I think it was a better awards show than many we have seen in recent years – even without an official host – and that is a huge accomplishment.

 

Super Bowl Halftime Show Fizzles Out

By Lexi Rynning

I was very disappointed with Super Bowl LIII’s  Pepsi halftime show, featuring Maroon 5, Travis Scott and Big Boi. I went into the show with such high expectations and it did nothing for me. There was a lot of flash for very little substance. The song choices, which included Maroon 5’s hits “This Love” and “Girls Like You,” could have been better. I was bored. I wanted to jump around and sing along but I couldn’t because it was so unexciting. I hated the outfit choice of Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine as well. It was a poorly executed halftime show with very little storyline, nothing to get me engaged. Yeah, sure, fire is cool, but if you don’t have anything backing it up, it’s pointless to include it in the first place.

I think that Travis Scott, best known for “Sicko Mode,” did a decent job but I feel like he should have cut out the curse words in his songs to make it a family-friendly concert. With all the words being bleeped out, you could hardly recognize the song. I was very upset with Big Boi’s performance. This is more of a personal gripe because when I heard he was performing, I got very excited to hear his hit song “All Night.” He didn’t even end up singing it.

I think the stage setup was very boring and static. With the huge budget they most likely had, the producers could have utilized more technology and maybe even some auto tune.  Overall, I think the halftime show didn’t live up to the hype, and many critics agreed, using words such as “bland” and “underwhelming” to describe it.The Atlantic magazine called it “designed to be forgotten.” 

Gillette Ad on Toxic Masculinity Causes Controversy

By Callia Gilligan

Gillette, a well-known Boston-based razor company, has recently put out a new commercial that does not feature razors. Instead, it draws attention to the idea of toxic masculinity.

If you haven’t already seen the video, watch it here.

What is toxic masculinity? While there are many different ways to describe the idea, at its root it is the notion of what it means to be a “real” man. This could mean not showing emotions, having a belligerent nature or having dominion over things. It is often believed that because the idea of being a “man” is so important, men act hostile or extra aggressive and repress their emotions. The Gillette commercial featured this idea and went into depth about how toxic masculinity influences societal norms for men.

There are many opinions on this commercial. Some say it was a way to call out men and make them feel ashamed. Others argue that it perfectly addresses a serious problem in our culture. Some are angry at the fact that the ad focuses on politics instead of razors. While everyone’s opinion is valuable and deserves to be heard, I’d like to share mine.

I personally thought the commercial was well-done and addressed issues that we as a country face. It talks about how society often uses the phrase “boys will be boys” to excuse aggressive or inappropriate behavior. Not only did it address toxic masculinity, but I thought it did a great job of addressing topics like victim shaming. People, specifically women, go through a lot to avoid getting sexually harassed. We are taught to not walk alone at night, to not wear suggestive clothing,  to train ourselves so we’ll be able to defend ourselves if ever needed. This commercial reversed that by making the point that behaviors such as cat-calling make people feel the need to protect themselves. It drew notice to the fact that this behavior will always be the attacker’s fault, never the victim’s. I also though the commercial did a really could job of addressing the societal norms that men and women are expected to uphold. I feel like some feminists can get a little to obsessed with the adversities that women face and ignore the fact that men can face similar ones.

Many people say that the commercial was unfair because it pointed fingers at men and made them feel poorly of themselves. While I do see where this point was coming from, I would like to draw attention to the decades of commercials that have sexualized or objectified women. Rather than exposing the problems with those conventional ideas, those commercials gave into them, making women feel poorly of themselves.

Overall, whether you liked or disliked the commercial, I think it deserves thought. I feel it calls attention to behaviors and norms in society that shouldn’t exist. It’s important to ask yourself: do you ever see, participate in or experience this behavior? If so, what are you going to do about it?

I congratulate Gillette for acknowledging the power of its media presence. They took a risk, making a commercial they knew might anger some, in order to spark a conversation — and maybe even a change — in society.

YEAR IN REVIEW: Tea Time with Tim

By Tim Sullivan

2019 has finally arrived! The new year brings a fresh start for everyone and gives us a chance to reflect on the events that took place last year. There were a lot of memorable moments from the entertainment world in 2018, dare I say, a lot of tea . . .

Famous Births 

Arguably the most talked about pregnancy of the year was Kylie Jenner. Although rumors abounded, she and boyfriend Travis Scott kept it a secret right up until their daughter, Stormi, was born. The news was finally broken on Feb. 4,  three days after birth. Scott and Jenner are still together.

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Across the pond, Prince Louis, the third child of Prince William and Duchess Kate, was born April 23. The royal couple has an older son and daughter.

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Kim Kardashian and Kanye West also had their third child, a baby girl named Chicago, on Jan. 15.

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Famous Deaths 

Sadly we lost some of the greats in the last year, from the pioneer of comic books to a critically acclaimed rapper.

Aretha Franklin “Queen of Soul,” 3/25/52 – 8/16/18

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Burt Reynolds Actor, Oscar Nominee,  2/11/36 – 9/6/18

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Stan Lee Marvel Comics Creator, Appeared in Marvel Films, 12/28/22 – 11/12/18

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Penny Marshall Actress, Director, 10/15/43 – 12/17/18

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Anthony Bourdain Chef, Televison Personality,  6/25/56 – 6/8/18

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Mac Miller Rapper, 1/19/92 – 6/7/18

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Stand-outs on Screen 

This year’s blockbusters included “Crazy Rich Asians,” “Avengers: Infinity War,” “Incredibles 2,” “Black Panther,” and, my personal favorite, “Bohemian Rhapsody.” These films crushed the box office, earning anywhere from $200,000 all the way to well over $1,000,000,000. One of the biggest names in TV Shows this year was Sandra Oh in “Killing Eve.” She was also the first Asian-American woman to be nominated for an Emmy for outstanding lead actress in a drama series, according to Vail Daily.

High Risers on the Music Charts 

Childish Gambino, Cardi B, and, of course, Ariana Grande released some of the most notable tunes of 2018. These include “I Like it,” “This is America” and my personal favorite, “Thank you, Next.” Artists like Drake, Post Malone, Camilla Cabello, and Shawn Mendes also topped the charts.

Scandals in Entertainment 

There was more to talk about this past year than just Ariana Grande and Pete Davidson breaking up; some serious scandals also occurred in 2018.

Tristan Thompson got caught red-handed on video cheating on pregnant girlfriend Khloe Kardashian just as the star was about to give birth. After their daughter, True, was born, the two stars decided to work it out and are still together, healing for the sake of their family.

Roseanne Barr’s reboot of her popular sitcom “Roseanne” was quickly canceled following a racist tweet that Barr sent out about one of President Obama’s former staff members. ABC claimed that her tweet was quite inconsistent with their values and something like that could not just slide by. The show attempted to continue without her by killing off her character.

Demi Lovato, who has struggled with addiction for years and gotten clean several times, almost lost her life this year. After being brought back from overdose with Narcan, Lovato entered rehab and is now well over 90 days sober.

Marriages

The last topic of Tea for 2018 is Marriages, and this past year we had a lot! All of these couples seem very happy and I wish them the best for the future.

Prince Harry and Former Hollywood star Meghan Markle tied the knot in May.

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Supermodel Karlie Kloss and Joshua Kushner got married last October.

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Justin Bieber and Hailey Baldwin had a whirlwind love story that ended up with the two married in 2018, exact date unknown.

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Just before Christmas on Dec. 23, on-again off-again couple Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth finally exchanged vows.

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Nick Jonas and Priyanka Chopra also got married in December.

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2018 was packed with events, births, deaths, and media that rocked the entertainment world! This past year was totally one to remember and no one knows what 2019 will bring. Will the teapot fill with new scandals? Only time will tell.

Featured picture from Kingfisher.agency