Drama Club’s Student-Led Play “Etched X” Postponed Until Late Spring

A+script+for+%22Etched-X%22+lays+on+a+bed.+The+script+was+written+entirely+by+FHN+students.

Credit to Megan Miller

A script for “Etched-X” lays on a bed. The script was written entirely by FHN students.

By Chloe Horstman and Tayler Ross

After a month of hard work and weeks of being announced over the intercom, the FHN Drama Club’s student-led show “Etched X” was originally set to debut on the stage on Feb. 11, 12 and 13, and stream online the next week, but was pushed back a week so it wouldn’t compete with Valentine’s Day. Now, the student-written show has been postponed until late spring. A wave of quarantines has wiped several cast and crew members off the stage, but the show must go on…just not this weekend. 

On Feb. 4, a rehearsal turned into a meeting in which a big decision was made: the second winter play would be postponed because more than half of the members had been contact-traced. 

“They (the club members) were getting contact traced from other people not in the club,” senior Jenna Weber, the club’s vice president, said. “Both of our [lead] characters were out, and there’s only two [lead] characters. We were all in a rehearsal turned club meeting because everybody was absent, everybody was sick, and the problem was we wouldn’t have enough crew if we had people to stand in place with the actors.”

This play was different from many others to grace FHN’s stage because it was actually developed start to finish by club members, who wanted to showcase their talents in a more serious production than their recent fairy tale plays. The play found its beginning in Weber’s father’s head, who shared his idea with her. 

“My dad had an idea to do a play, and then I showed it to everybody and they liked it,” Weber said. “Then we all kind of planned off of it and built it. We all kind of wrote it together. I wrote the palace scene, and we assigned each other scenes to write, it was fun.”

After the last performance of the club’s previous play, the group went to Gingham’s and Weber pitched the idea to the officers, who enthusiastically received it and proposed the idea to drama club advisor Kim Sulzner the following Monday. After getting the green light, the officers set to work creating an original play, mapping out ideas on the white board in COM 1, Sulzner’s temporary classroom, and dividing scenes to write and revising together over zoom meetings. 

“We kept it behind the big screen in COM 1,” Sulzner said. “They kind of wrote up almost a timeline that was evolving, and then they started to create the scenes. But then they spent a lot of time over Christmas and stuff all on their own and came up with the scenes, and the characters, and the dialogue. They were in my room almost every single afternoon, and they would talk through bits and pieces of it.”

The group finished the script in just a few weeks, right before auditions and callbacks were held on Jan. 12. The writers explained the premise of the show to the cast and crew during rehearsals, and did several read throughs to fill in details and fine tune the script. 

Sophomore Trinity Boschert helped to write the play and is also a stage manager for the production. She hopes to continue writing plays in the future and though she missed the first four weeks of rehearsal due to being quarantined, she is both nervous and excited to see fellow drama club members bring the vision to life. 

“I have spent a lot of time with these people and I feel like they won’t mess it up, at least not on purpose,” Boschert said. 

In order to qualify as an ‘Honor Troupe’ in competitions for ThesCon, a conference put on for high schoolers by the International Thespian Society, Sulzner had to entirely be hands-off in the process of writing the play. She even made periodic trips “to the copy machine” to suppress her desire to offer ideas and to not to interfere with the writers’ processes. 

“[Putting on a student-led play] is a challenge,” Sulzner said. “When you’re taking somebody else’s words and bringing them to life, you don’t have to worry about the words. But when you’re writing it, if you’re one of the authors, you also have an image of how it’s going to play out. And if the actors don’t create that same image, it’s kind of hard. There’s that added element because we have to write the words and then we have to create the characters.”

Because the play was entirely original, the club members didn’t have to obtain royalties, licenses or pay for copyrighted scripts, but they certainly had plenty of work cut out for them. Rather than consult the back of the script, the actors and crew members set to work building a play completely from imagination.  

“We had to make up all the costumes and the makeup and the set design,” Weber said. “Basically, we had to do everything that shows usually give us right off the bat.”

“Etched X” is now going to take place on May 6, after the spring production of “Angel Street”, as entertainment for the club’s award banquet. To keep the actor’s lines and blocking fresh in memory, the rehearsals for the spring plays will alternate between each production. To further avoid contact tracing, at least from other members within the club, “Angel Street” will be double casted, with one cast and crew rehearsing two days a week and the other cast and crew practicing on the other two days. Wednesdays will be devoted to running through “Etched X” as a whole club. 

“They’re on the right track,” Sulzner said. “They’re doing it. It’s going to be great, and it’s a really cute story.”