By MATT CRANE
Following their performance in the North Mississippi High School Drama Festival, the cast and crew of Starkville High School’s “The Insanity of Mary Girard” will advance to the next level of competition at the Mississippi Theatre Association festival in January.
First year SHS theatre teacher Jessica Taylor said she feels very good about moving forward and proud of the work she and her students accomplished.
“I’m so excited and it felt like all the hard work really paid off,” she said. “We’ll be moving forward along with Oxford, Union County and Corinth.”
The play, written by Lanie Roberston, dramatizes the real-life events surround the life and eventual institutionalization of a Philadelphia, Pa. woman, Mary Lum Girard.
“The play is about a women who has been committed to an insane asylum by her husband,” Taylor said. “She has demons surrounding her that make her face the people from her past.”
Along with the Distinguished Play Award, Taylor said the show’s lead, Mary Kate Hughes, was honored with an all-star cast nomination as well as a special award for physical acting given to the actors portraying “The Furies.”
“The judges are allowed to create new awards if they feel they are warranted,” she said. “It was amazing and the students playing ‘The Furies’ deserved it for all the extra hours of rehearsal they put in to get everything just right.”
Taylor said advancing to the state level of competition during her first year of teaching validated the work she and her students have done since the beginning of the year.
“It made me feel like I was doing something right,” she said. “But at the end of the day, the kids deserve most of the credit because they’re so good that they made it so easy.”
Between now and January when the show debuts at the 2013 MTA festival in Columbus, Taylor said the cast and crew will make adjustments to the production based on notes from the judges.
“We’re going to add some effects and some surprising things to it,” she said. “I don’t want to give anything away, but it’s going to be a show-stopping scene.”
Taylor said another public performance will take place in January at SHS to help offset travel expenses and festival registration fees, and her entire team is primed to take the show to the next level.
“Everyone is really anxious and ready to step up their game even more,” she said. “We’re all throwing out ideas to make it better. It was good before, but now we’re going to make it great.”