In the Moment: ‘Voices From the High School’ at NextStop Theatre Company-Cast Members Chime In

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Dark Nights” You remember that theatre term for when a venue has no shows playing to an audience. Well, NextStop Theatre, located in Herndon is having its April Theatre for Young Audiences production of Snow White during the day. That allowed NextStop to open its space for a series of one-night-only engagements in the evenings.

This project offers programming that will be different from what an audience usually sees at NextStop, according to Artistic Director Evan Hoffmann.

One of the one-night only performance caught my eye as a wonderful opportunity for local high school students to act under the direction of a professional director and show their acting chops on a professional stage. It is a performance of Voices From the High School by Peter Dee.

Voices is a play that uncovers and then exposes on the stage the real-life attitudes, feelings, and issues that teen-age high schoolers face today.  It reflects many of the joys and tough times of growing up.  The play is told in short skits, interspersed with anecdotes given by characters without names, but who represent all high schoolers. Each of the short-in-time skit deals with a specific issue students are facing right this moment; whether being a new kid to a school, to working, to teen pregnancy, and plenty more.

One other point, the Fairfax County Public School (FCPS) high school has a Theatre Arts program that is robust.

And, the CAPPIES (Critics and Awards Program) has its beginnings in 1999 in Fairfax County with the work of the late Bill Strauss, a founder of the Capital Steps .

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David: Why did NextStop decide to produce Voices from the High School?

Evan Hoffmann, NextStop Artistic Director: I believe it is so important that NextStop build strong relationships with the drama departments in our community. These are our future patrons and artists. I want to help and support these programs in any way we can.

NextStop Theatre Company's Artistic Director Evan Hoffman.
NextStop Theatre Company’s Artistic Director Evan Hoffman.

Why did you want to direct Voices from the High School?

The talent in our local schools is astounding. I wanted the chance to work with them myself!

How would you briefly describe the scenario of Voices?

Voices is an extremely frank, poignant, and beautiful look into the world that high school students are living in. These are the stresses, struggles, celebrations, and heartaches that define their existence.

What can audiences expect at the performance?

Audiences should expect to be astounded by 10 of the most talented young actors in our area. They should expect to see raw, powerful and honest performances by artists who are committed to their work.

How did you go about selecting the cast of Northern Virginia high school students?

To build a cast for Voices, we went to the drama teachers at our five closest high schools and asked them to identify performers who had the passion, talent, and drive to approach a serious, dramatic work of theatre. These young performers agreed to step up and put themselves out there to be treated as professionals and respond with professional caliber performances.

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Peri

Peri Cooper from Chantilly High School (11th grade).

David: What excites you most about being in a show at NextStop?\

Peri: I’m excited about getting to work in a professional environment and to work with actors from different schools.

What kind of acting experience do you have? Is this your first professional show?

This is my first professional show, but I have done a good amount at my high school.

Do you hope to become a professional actor? If not, what are planning to do after high school?

I have always enjoyed acting, and I would like to keep acting whenever possible. After high school, I plan to go to college and pursue a career in medicine.

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Raleigh

Raleigh Hampson from Herndon High School (11th grade)

David: What excites you most about being in a show at NextStop?

Raleigh: I’ve seen some shows at NextStop, so it’s really cool to work in a professional space where I know very talented artists have worked before.

What kind of acting experience do you have? Is this your first professional show?

I’ve been in about a dozen or so school plays since middle school, but this would be my first professional show.

Do you hope to become a professional actor? If not, what are planning to do after high school?

I certainly hope so! My other main career choice is as some sort of playwright or screenwriter as I’ve always taken a liking to writing myself.

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Jacob (1)

Jacob Kemp from South Lakes High School (12th grade)

David: What excites you most about being in a show at NextStop?

Jacob: The opportunity to work with other talented people from surrounding schools and to work with a professional theatre.

What kind of acting experience do you have? Is this your first professional show? 

I have been in multiple community and high school shows as well as competitive monologue acting, this is my first professional show.

Do you hope to become a professional actor? If not, what are planning to do after high school?

I do hope to study theatre in college and work in theatre professionally.

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Mely

 Mely Megahed from South Lakes High School (10th Grade)

David: What excites you most about being in a show at NextStop?

Mely: I am super excited to be in my first NextStop show! I’ve been an audience member at NextStop productions for years and it has always been a goal of mine to get on the stage! I’m honored to be in a production at such a wonderful company with such wonderful people.

What kind of acting experience do you have? Is this your first professional show? 

I participate in all of the productions at South Lakes High School and doing so has really shaped and driven my passion for theatre. This is my first professional production and I am very happy to be stepping out of my comfort zone with such a poignant show.

Do you hope to become a professional actor? If not, what are planning to do after high school?

I hope to become a professional actor & continue sharing my passion of theatre with others throughout my life. I hope to someday inspire people in theatre as many of my mentors have for me.

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Tiffany

Tiffany Pham from Potomac Falls High School (11th Grade)

David: What excites you most about being in a show at NextStop?

Tiffany: I’m excited to participate in this production because it’s something that will be new and exciting to experience and talk about to other people. It’ll further help me with my skills in theater.

What kind of acting experience do you have? Is this your first professional show?

I take theater class back at my school, Potomac Falls High Schoolz. I’ve done tech for a couple of shows and last fall I was in my first production as a leading character.

Do you hope to become a professional actor? If not, what are planning to do after high school?

I do plan on becoming a professional actor one day. Hopefully people will see me on the big screen someday.

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Michael

Michael Rosegrant from Chantilly High School (1th Grade)

David: What excites you most about being in a show at NextStop?

Michael: I am always thrilled to work in a new space with a new company. I believe that exposure is essential to growing as a performer. This includes exposure to different theaters, different directors, different collaborators, and most importantly, different audiences. NextStop provides a unique experience for me to perform in the Herndon area, a community with which I do not often interact.

What kind of acting experience do you have? Is this your first professional show? 

I have worked in theatre since I was seven-years-old and have appeared in school productions, university productions, staged readings, community theatre and short films. I made my professional debut at Arena Stage located in Washington, D.C. as the understudy for Dylan in the 2015 world premiere of Akeelah and the Bee.

Do you hope to become a professional actor? If not, what are planning to do after high school? 

I plan to attend college for theatre and hopefully become a professional actor in New York City or Washington, D.C. after graduation.

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Voices from High School plays April 9, 2016 at NextStop Theatre – 269 Sunset Park Drive, in Herndon, VA. For tickets, call the box office at (866) 811-4111, or purchase them online.