Westchester High School in Los Angeles, like some other high schools, simply doesn’t have the resources to run a formal theater department. But this didn’t stop students from the Del Rey Players, a student-run acting troupe at Loyola Marymount University, from volunteering to work with Westchester High students to help them produce a full-length play.
“It was almost as if the Del Rey Players adopted the theater students from Westchester High School,” said Emma McHugh, president of the troupe and a senior screenwriting major. “It was a wonderful experience giving them an opportunity to perform.”
The group chose “London Suite,” a play by Neil Simon, because it has four separate acts with each act’s meaning independent of the others. Four directors from the Del Rey Players were chosen for each of the acts to accommodate schedules and as a way to get more students involved. McHugh, one of the directors, said that working with high schools students was fulfilling, and that it wasn’t as difficult as she thought it would be.
“It was so much fun mentoring the students and helping them do theater,” McHugh said. “At first we thought of them as kids, but soon we realized they were really our peers and it became more of a peer-on-peer working relationship.”
Performances of “London Suite” were held Dec. 9 and 10, 2009, in the Westchester High School auditorium. “Everyone kept telling us how much they enjoyed the show, especially all the parents of the students. It seemed to be well-received all around and I couldn’t be more grateful for that,” McHugh said.
The partnership was facilitated by the LMU Family of Schools, which connects LMU with seven local schools. There are plans to collaborate next semester, but the details have yet to be determined. McHugh sees it as a great opportunity to engage more students and to garner more support for the arts.
“I’ve learned the value of theater, the importance of the arts and having the resources to do it. We’re so lucky to have the Theater Department and the Del Rey Players at LMU,” McHugh said. “And it’s going to create a lot of opportunities to take what we know and share it with others.”
Posted Dec. 28, 2009