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The Play That Goes Right

The Play That Goes Wrong is exactly what it sounds like. It is a show about a murder at an English manor that purposely escalates into hysterical mayhem. First performed in 2012 at The Old Red Lion Theater in London, it has now been performed by Poudre’s theater department. The show ran from February 22 to 25 this year.

Poudre High School’s version of The Play That Goes Wrong was absolutely astounding. Hilarious, believable, shocking, and insanely well acted, it is one of the best things our theater department has put on. Along with the amazing blocking and hilarious script, the students really went above and beyond with this show, pulling off jokes and stunts that few would be capable of. Amidst all of the show’s chaos, everyone proved to be put together and funny in their own right. It was gripping, entertaining, and quite simply impressive. 

The day after opening night I grabbed an interview with the theater director Mr. Smith to ask him about the show. 

How did it go? 

It's great when students work for weeks, sometimes months to put a show together and to finally put it in front of an audience.

What drew you to this play in particular?

I've known about the play for a while and it's very funny. It kind of brought comedy with a lot of technical elements thrown in. It was really last year when we did Clue and the technical crew rose to a really challenging set and built something really remarkable. We actually got applause during the show for the set moving. And I thought well if our technical theater students are able to do something like this they can do something as technically challenging as The Play That Goes Wrong. At the time the only script that was available was the full play and that's probably beyond what we’d be capable of doing in terms of the technology they use. They use some pyrotechnics in that one, but when the high school version came out I thought if we could do Clue a year ago we can absolutely do this show now. 

What are some challenges you faced during production?

Every show is a different challenge. There were challenges with the acting and staging of the show. There are always unique challenges with technical elements like lights and sound, costumes. What I love about directing shows here is that it's always something new, it's always something different and I love trying different things and doing things that I haven’t done before so I embrace that challenge, that it’s always something new and different. With this show specifically we had seven weeks which is not a lot of time. 

How much time do you normally have?

Usually I like to plan about eight weeks to put a show together but we had seven weeks for this one, from winter break until now, then we had a snow day and some teacher work days in there so getting a show like this together in that amount of time was challenging there were obviously technical challenges trying to do things we hadn’t done before with the set but also you know some of the actors are doing accents so we had to train accents. A lot of the comedy is very physical so we had to do a lot of work with the physicality of the show we had a fight coordinator because there’s some weapons in the show there’s some fight choreography we had to put in the show and anytime your doing a big physical comedy like this its hard getting the timing right, getting it to be funny the way that you want it to be funny, and getting it to be really clean but move really quickly. Comedy is really challenging to have it work to have it land the way that it’s supposed to. All of those things were a challenge but the cast and crew really rose to all of those things. 

How do you give critique or work out kinks?

We rehearse, rehearse, rehearse…Usually after every rehearsal there are notes that we give about things that are working really well things that are not working and need to be changed sometimes it's a matter of re-staging things because it's not looking the way that its supposed to so we ask the students to you know really come prepared and be ready if we need to change things, we change things. We were changing things right up until opening just to make sure that everything was right and everything was working the way it was supposed to.

How do you ensure that the production is the best it can be?

Well “the best that it can be” is a difficult term to define. My goal is that students have an experience where they feel challenged, they are able to take risks and take chances, they’re learning skills that they can certainly put into a career in theater but also that they’re learning skills that they could use even if they never do theater again so a lot of the stuff that we do has to do with working to deadlines and working to a schedule collaborative problem solving for when things go wrong, being creative, being empathetic. I think that those are really vital skills no matter what you get into so when you say “the best that it can be” those are my goals for the students involved in the show. Hopefully it’s also entertaining, hopefully it’s also like quality theater and effective for the audience but if students walk away from this production feeling like they learned something, new skills, they took a chance and did something maybe they weren’t sure they would be able to do they allowed themselves to get uncomfortable in a really positive way and they feel like in the end it was worthwhile and they feel really satisfied with what they’ve done, to me is “the best it can be”. 

Is there anything you would like audiences to know?

Come prepared to laugh, it's a very funny show, the kids have worked very hard to put it together. It's a really quality show not just that it’s good for a high school show but I think it's a really good show so hopefully people will come and see it. 

After closing night I spoke to a member of the cast, Harper Skjerseth, who played the lighting and sound operator as part of the show to learn more about the perspective of the cast and crew.

How does this compare to other shows you’ve been in? Do you like the material?

I think that this has been one of my favorite shows I’ve done so far. I feel like it was really comedic but more comedic than some of the other plays we’ve done. I feel like people in the audience really picked up on that and just doing a show that’s this funny. There are a lot of new people on this show that I haven't worked with before. It just really blended together into a really great experience.

There is a lot of physical comedy in this show, was it difficult to achieve the proper delivery? Did it seem dangerous?

It was really scary. When we were first reading through the script and we saw that walls fall down over people or that people get knocked out we were like “oh my god, how are we going to do that, that sounds so scary” but when we started doing it safety was the top priority so that helped ease our minds a little bit and I think that after we started working we worked through it a lot very slowly and just started to amp it up. I think that helped us achieve the comedy while still being safe. 

Was there anything else particularly difficult about this show? 

You know it's a very physical show and it's just exhausting to do that every night. By the end of the night all of us were just drenched in sweat but I think it was all a great experience, just very tiring.


Are you looking forward to the next show?

Absolutely! I am very excited and costumes are going to be really awesome for this next show. I know they already started working on the costumes before The Play That Goes Wrong even closed so I’m very excited about that. It’s very mystical and magical and I think we’re all excited to do something like that at Poudre.

What is your favorite part of being a part of this show or Poudre theater as a whole?

I think my favorite part is probably just the community. I feel like we’re here late into the night and we all bond over just having this shared experience and it's great, just to have this family that we’re all a part of.

Clearly it took a lot of hard work to make this play to be as amazing as it was. We cannot wait to see what the Poudre Theater Department does next with this amazing band of students as their talents continue to grow.


Andrea "The Schis" Schisler is a senior at Poudre High School. She has been held on suspicions of being a dork. She failed her driver's test twice and should be regarded as extremely dangerous. If seen, do not attempt to reason with her. It won't work.

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