Finals. Few single words can evoke the physical responses than that word. It's a bad time-no sleep, quick food and trying to cram more information into your head than it can absorb. It's a good time-as soon as this test is over so is this class, forever.
This is the setting of Elkhorn Area High School's fall play, "The Paper Chase."
The people are law school freshmen; the place is the classroom of Professor Kingsfield's contracts course, and the time is finals.
The cast is an eclectic blend of personalities "showcasing the numerous and varied personalities that make up a classroom," said Lisa Dettman, director.
"The Paper Chase" is a familiar story because it's one of the few scripts that is a book, a movie and a television series. And there are ties to all three in this performance.
One reason Dettman chose this play was for its dramatic qualities.
"We work hard to give our students a variety of theatrical experiences," she said. "We have done children's theater, comedy, mystery and even Shakespearean works. It was time to look at a drama again."
Another is that this drama has a relatable theme to both students and adults.
"While high school students have not fully experienced the rigor of study required for law school, they are familiar with tough classes, difficult classmates and the stress of final exams," she explains.
Melissa Hanley, who portrays Kate Farranti, agrees.
"I do relate to (this play)," she said. "Farranti is a first-year student at Harvard Law School who recently broke an engagement because her fiancé didn't think women should be lawyers. As the story progresses, Kate tells how he is still writing to her twice a day until she learns that he is engaged again."
Hanley has been in performances throughout her high school years. She's played a variety of characters and likes this one best for a few reasons.
"In 'Ask Any Girl,' I was an old spinster aunt with grey hair; in 'Father Knows Best,' an 8-year old girl with pigtails and a little pink dress; and this year a Harvard law student.
"It's fun to change roles every year and adapt to each. With those parts, however, it's hard to see it playing out in my own life. In 'The Paper Chase' I love that I'm a law student because that's what I hope to become in the next five years. And (Farranti) provides a little humor in the show."
Finals at Harvard Law School lead two students to "sequester themselves in a hotel room for seven days and nights in order to study for the finals," Dettman said. "They, in the process, recount all the hardships and events which occurred over the past semester, including Hart's love interest, Susan; the falling apart of a marriage; the nervous breakdown of another classmate; and the anger and hostility which explodes between some members of the study group."
The company has really pulled together to make this show one of the best, Hanley and Dettman agreed.
"The great group of actors we have that all work together so well," Hanley said. "We're constantly joking around with each other backstage making it both a fun experience and easier to work together onstage."
"We have a great group of kids and (James) Adams' talent is endless," Dettman said. Adams is the technical director.
"The Paper Chase" runs Nov. 10-11 at 7 p.m. at the Elkhorn Area High School auditorium. Tickets are $5 in advance and $6 at the door and can be purchased from any cast or crew member or at the high school office weekdays from 7:30 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. For more information, call 723-4920.
Meagan Larson-Student director
Sean Harris-Professor Kingsfield First year law students:
Amaryllis Scott-Mrs. Wentworth