A New Season of Black Box Plays to Enchant and Excite


Jiahua Chen '20

Dylan Kalaydjian ’19 and Serena Zhou ’20 rehearse in the black box.

In a fast-paced first semester, Black Box plays produced by the Hotchkiss Dramatic Association, the board that oversees all theatrical events, will offer a chance for students to take a break and be entertained. This semester, five plays promise laughter and tears to the school community: Trojan Horse, Red Coat, Remind Me Again, The Second Beam and Rainbow Sprinkles. In addition, a sixth play will be produced without prior announcement. “We always like to keep some surprises. The students – they never know what’s happening,” said Hannah Lothian ’19, the director of Trojan Horse. “That’s the joy of theatre, isn’t it?”

Black Box plays give actors a chance to immerse themselves in the creative process of theatre on a part-time basis. In contrast with major HDA productions, the plays take less time to prepare. Experienced theatre students and novice actors alike enjoy the experience of working on a smaller stage with less stage fright. Black Box plays also welcome students to participate through backstage help, such as managing lighting or sound. Black Box plays introduce the magic of theatre to students who cannot join a main stage play due to other commitments.

“We always like to keep some surprises. The students – they never know what’s happening”

— Hannah Lothian ’19

Throughout the years, Black Box plays have raised the community’s awareness of important social issues. These plays often aim to educate the audience in ways that can quickly grab their attention, including through the use of satire and humor. Two years ago, a Black Box play entitled What Are You Doing There told a story about self-harm and mental health issues. “I think it conveyed messages that people normally aren’t comfortable hearing,” recalled Jailyn Mallard ’19. On the other hand, plays such as Talya Li ‘19’s Red Coat focus on romantic and poetic language. Li said, “I’ve never dealt with something this poetic and I tried to have actors say it in a way that’s believable and tells a realistic story.”

The biggest challenge that the directors and actors face is the pressing time limit. A four-week rehearsal period will challenge both the actors’ memory and the directors’ focus. “It’s the first time since I’ve been here [that] the fall festival includes six productions,” noted Mr. Reed, instructor in English and theatre. “So, six plays with full cast[s] trying to fit in the smallest window for rehearsal – we [go] big here in the theater.” However, directors are excited. “The time is definitely going to be fun,” Lothian said. “Part of my love is to see how fast the actors can learn the lines – watching them, in a way, be amazed by what they can do in such a short amount of time.”

“Every time I’ve gone to a Black Box play, the audience is engaged and has fun. The actors involved in the play also look like they are having a good time. Unlike major productions, Black Box plays are short and light,” said Nick Romero ’21. “I am looking forward to seeing some strong and convincing performances this year. Black Box plays are essentially the best parts of theatre compressed into short shows and skits.”