Midtown: Community

Enthralled by thespians, creativity at Enloe High

I rarely decide anything based solely on what I’ve heard; preferring, instead, to also base important decisions on sights seen and knowledge known.

But when it came time for us to steer our daughter into high school, we chose Enloe. Sure, we knew about its International Baccalaureate program and academic record, but we’d only heard about its strong arts offerings.

Our introduction – and Teeghan’s high school acting debut – came Tuesday at Enloe’s Acting Night, a production in which every student in Christine Northrup and KoKo Thornton’s theater classes take the stage.

With performances by four levels of classes, Acting I-IV, it was a long night – a little more than three hours, a bit much even for a mama who has had her share of waiting out rehearsals and attending performances.

I loved every minute of it!

By the time Teeghan’s Acting I class performed its post-intermission “The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales” by John Scieszka and Lane Smith, I was enthralled by young thespian talent, the plays, the costumes, the creative sets, the lighting and sound – and the silent auction of everything from homemade goodies and gift baskets to dinner or theater tickets.

They did it all over again with the remaining classes Wednesday. I don’t know whether other high schools do it like this. Thornton said she isn’t sure about that, either.

She does believe, though, the silent auction makes Enloe unique. It’s also the sole source of Enloe’s Theater Scholarship Fund given to an Enloe theater student planning to major in theater in college. This year, it brought in more than $800.

Kudos, I say. For good reason.

In addition to “The Stinky Cheese Man,” the students put on many plays they themselves wrote. Creativity didn’t stop at contents of the play bill.

In Norm Foster’s play about two guys on a memorable Saturday cruise, there was a stationary steering wheel, a bench as car seats, and construction barriers as car doors.

“We have a zero-budget for Acting Night,” Thornton said. “Students come up with sets based on what they know we have at school. Same goes with costumes. We don’t even borrow them.

“Students shoulder the responsibility, and we encourage them not to spend any money. It forces them to be creative. It gives them a lot more ownership.”

The night I was there, Enloe junior Taylor Cordes was, too. Although her schedule won’t fit a theater class, she came to see a performance of a play she wrote last year in Acting II.

“Just to see the words you write and how the actors interpret the characters is absolutely amazing,” said Taylor, 16. “It’s vital to have a place where you can express yourself and be yourself because you don’t get many opportunities throughout the day to voice your own opinion, or just say what you want.”

Sophomore Harris Kay made a lion mask for his role in “The Lying King,” a class-written fable with lessons in honesty, integrity and being true to oneself. It took him 12 worth-it hours, he said.

“The program will help push your limits. I can be more outgoing,” Harris, 15, said. “It boosts public speaking and confidence. There’s so much more application of theater than just theater itself.”

Beth Honeycutt has known it all along. She’s the artistic director for the Garner Towne Players, which includes a teen summer troupe. She’s also mom of two young thespians. Jackson is an Enloe freshman, and Arlie, an Enloe alum and student at East Carolina University, is also our 2012 Miss North Carolina.

“I cannot say enough about what I think the arts do for children,” Honeycutt said. They build confidence, teach discipline and respect for others, and enhance public speaking skills, she said. “It gets them ready for all types of things parents don’t even think about sometimes.

So, the moral of this story: Sometimes everything they say is true.