Teens star in drama society showcase

Local teens will be featured in a one-night-only showcase, “From Script to Stage” on Saturday night at the Prospect Playhouse.

The Cayman Drama Society will feature local actors performing monologues, select scenes and a short play, performances which follow a two-week workshop for teens.

The teenagers will present “Twelve Angry Jurors” – originally “Twelve Angry Men,” a play by Reginald Rose – about jury members who must decide the fate of a man accused of murder.

Members of the adult evening classes will present a variety of other pieces.

Two participants in the workshop, Gwen Stabler, 14, and Bronson Hunt, 17, said they are excited about the performance and grateful for the opportunity.

“It’s been fun,” said Bronson. “What I do like about this workshop is the fact that it’s different. You get that with drama – with everybody you learn from you learn different techniques.”

Gwen said, “The play [on Saturday] is not what you expect; it’s a lot different. I think everyone expects us to only be putting on musicals, but this is a lot more intense and allows you to get to know the characters in your own personal ways and interact with them more. If you like murder mysteries, you should definitely come.”

Gwen has been involved in seven productions at the Prospect Playhouse, including most recently as Lord Farquaad and the dragon in “Shrek the Musical.”

Both Gwen and Bronson said they enjoy the confidence the stage brings them, and they encourage anyone considering acting to give it a chance.

“I love being on stage – it brings out the confidence in me,” Gwen said. “You put me in the theater and my whole posture changes. It brings me out of my box.”

The workshop was run by two veteran drama experts from London: Kirsty McNeil-O’Connor and her husband Peter McNeil-O’Conner.

Kirsty stressed the importance of the skills the teens learned at the camp.

“These are completely transferrable skills,” she said. “The fact that they’re going to be able to get up in front of strangers, and friends and family – which is often harder – and do something that some of them have never done before – it’s a great life experience for them.”

She encourages the public to come out and show their support. “They’ve worked really, really hard for two weeks and they deserve a good audience,” she said.

“There aren’t a lot of plays that allow you to cast 13 people and give them all good parts,” Peter said. “We also wanted to give them something that they’d have to think about and work hard at. Getting the kids to do this play and really dissect the characters and bring them to life – it’s brilliant.”

Assisting the couple was local drama enthusiast Melanie Ebanks, who recently graduated from the Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts in London with a bachelor’s degree in performance.

Ebanks said she hopes the Cayman Drama Society will be able to produce more workshops like this one in the future.

“It’s definitely something that I think is needed on island,” she said. “It’s nice to see the arts coming up now. I don’t think that people even considered doing something like this when I was 13.”

The workshop is the first of its kind in Cayman, according to the leaders. Kirsty McNeil-O’Connor is the co-founder of the nonprofit Happy Hour, which runs creative workshops for parents and their children. She also runs writing workshops in Essex and London. Her short film, “Buzzing,” was shortlisted for the Walthamstow International Film Festival and shown at the BFI London Film Festival.

Peter McNeil-O’Conner is a professional actor who trained at the East 15 Acting School. In 2000 he won the Laurence Olivier Bursary Award. He coaches actors in improvisation techniques for television and film and has taught at multiple summer acting schools. He is continuing his studies at The Actors Centre in London, where he focuses on the Meisner Laban and Stanislavsky techniques.

Tickets for the showcase are $10; reservations are not required. Happy hour will start at 6 p.m. and the show will begin at 7 p.m.

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