The first performance of the school year, “The Very Grey Matter of Edward Blank”, proves to stun both GAC audiences and those at the Georgia Theater Conference. After selling over 450 tickets for the show at GAC, the cast won four awards for their moving performance of the show that tackles the stigmas of mental illness.
The cast won the following awards at the competition:
Overall Best Show
John Michael Vestal, as Edward Blank, Best Lead Actor
Josh Swope, as Mr. Net, Best All-Star Cast
Each of the three judges gave an almost perfect score: 99/100, 98/100, and 98/100. When the judges offered their feedback to the troupe, one judge commented that their performance was “One of the most artistic shows she had ever seen with such a compelling message”.
The play introduces the audience to a talented ghostwriter who has isolated himself to focus on his craft, with only the company of his “figments”, the products of his Schizophrenia. These characters that season and improve his writing also cause riffs in other parts of his life. The performance featured director’s assisting by senior Kennedy Tolson and choreography by junior Jasmine Jones, who played a figment named Bubak who communicates solely through dance and movement.
The original script held very little stage direction, which opened up the possibilities for actors’ interpretations and the director's vision--which paid off.
“Our team went through a lot of research, creative meetings, line interpretation, acting exercises, problem-solving, and so much more to get to the final production,” said Kristy Winkes, GAC Theater Director. She says that so much of this interpretation process can be intimidating, but is well worth it when successful.
The conference hosted hundreds of high schools from all over Georgia, meaning their competition consisted of some of the strongest theater programs in the state, including Milton High School, Davidson Fine Arts Academy, and Lakeside High School, whose performances included shows like “Glorious,” “A Wrinkle in Time,” and “Einstein’s Dream”, all of which are also technically advanced shows.
What makes the performance even more remarkable are the constraints the actors were under. One of the competition rules is that students have only 55 minutes to set up the stage, perform, and dismantle the set. Performing on a different stage is also challenging, and the actors were given 15 minutes before the performance to walk the stage and make adjustments to the spacing of the set and their entrances and exits.
The cast will continue to perform their award-winning show at the High School League Regional Competition this week and the Southeast Theater Conference in February.