Advanced Drama II class shines at state competition


Submitted by Savahna Silvas

The cast of “These Shining Lives” poses while on the stage of the Willie Duke Auditorium. The group won the regional One Act Play competition and the AAAAA state competition for the first time in Starr’s Mill history.

Sophia Bender, Staff Writer

On Nov. 4, Starr’s Mill’s Advanced Drama II class participated in the annual One Act play state competition after qualifying for it on Oct. 28 at regionals. After much hard work and dedication, the class came away victorious not only as regional winners, but also as state champions.  

Their main goal was to do justice to the girls whom this play was about…And I really think they accomplished that.

— drama teacher Savahna Silvas

“Their main goal was to do justice to the girls whom this play was about,” new drama director Savahna Silvas said. “And I really think they accomplished that.”

The class performed the play “These Shining Lives,” which is based on the real story of women who worked at Radium Dial in Ottawa, Ill.. The women who worked there were given radium to paint onto the clock faces that the company made. After years of working there, the women were getting extremely sick from the toxic substance. Just as she did in the play, Catherine Donohue, the main character, went to court against the company for this.

The students portrayed a truly heartfelt and dramatic story in under 50 minutes, a feat that they worked extremely hard toward.

“Mrs. Silvas really pushed us, like even to the point where we didn’t want to be pushed anymore, but it obviously paid off,” senior Jo Dearman said. Part of that preparation included the cast researching their characters to gain a better understanding of them.

All four girls who played the leading roles felt that they had not only connected to the character, but also told the women’s story the best they ever had.

“I think that [the competition performance] was the best the cast and crew could have done,” senior Cara Clements said.

In the last few days leading up to the regional competition, not one member was sitting still. On the Wednesday and Thursday before, the entire cast got to practice their play in front of a live audience in Starr’s Mill’s newly renovated auditorium.

“Being able to perform in front of a live audience really helped,” Clements said.

They were able to time the play just as they would at the competition to practice doing “These Shining Lives” in the 50 minutes allotted. The week after winning regionals, they continued to practice the play in class to prepare for state.

Not only did the hard work and extra practice pay off for the group as a whole, several students from Starr’s Mill were given individual awards.  Jo Dearman won Best Actress for her stunning performance representing the very real Catherine Donahue, while Cara Clements earned All Star Cast honors.

Winning the state competition for One Act is quite an achievement for a Starr’s Mill drama department that has seen six different teachers in the last four years.

“Now we have Mrs. Silvas though, and we don’t want her going anywhere,” Clements said.

Silvas has made school history in just her first semester at the Mill. Everyone, especially the drama students, are excited to see what’s next.

“Next semester we have, of course, ‘The Wizard of Oz’ for the musical. We are also hoping to do a straight play as well,” Silvas said.

The spring musical is always highly anticipated and with Silvas’ success so far, the expectations for the musical are higher than ever.