Debut of Brainstorm Incorporated Audience Engagement and Connection For A Memorable Performance; Prep School Theater Department Head Reflects

Last week, the Prep School debuted their performance of their Spring Play Brainstorm. CGPS caught up with head of the Prep School theater department Sarah Cusick to learn more about how the performance went:

Can you describe to us the process of preparing and practicing in the weeks leading up to the performance?

Ms. Cusick: Although devising a play has many challenges and frustrations, there is no other experience that allows for such intense ownership. My favorite moments in the process were those times in rehearsal and after rehearsal when students and faculty were immersed in deep brainstorming sessions to generate a new idea or solve a sticky problem. You could feel the creative flow in the room. 

What was the most exciting part of the performance as someone who has seen the play from inception to final debut?

Ms. Cusick: The final part of making theater is sharing it with an audience. You learn so much about a play from listening to an audience's reactions. We performed in front of four very different audiences, and each time we learned something new. Our first show was an in-school matinee for the 9th grade and it was the first time we had actually run the show without stopping. Since there was a lot of audience participation in our play, it was also exciting to finally have volunteers get up on stage. On Friday night, we had a packed house where the students performed in front of parents. At the end of the play, there was an emotional scene when actors spoke directly to their parents, sharing love and gratitude. It was a powerful moment. 

How do you feel the students performed?

Ms. Cusick: Our 2019 seniors were Titans. Their level of talent, expertise, investment and overall leadership was extraordinary. Each of them faced unique challenges due to the mercurial nature of devising. The script changed daily, even through the last performance. This meant repeatedly writing out new cues in the promptbook for the stage manager, AnaBella K. ’19, and learning new lines for actors, Anna Lei N. ’19, Ari S. ’19 and Ava S. ’19. Sarah M. ’19 tackled crazy prop issues as Prop Master and Kyra C. ’19 worked as both an editor and light board operator. Anna Lei N. ’19 worked independently as Musical Director with the cast to teach them songs. Lara K. ’19 was the Lighting Designer, an amazing accomplishment. We have rarely had a group of seniors finish so strongly; they were a major part of the success of this production. Students and faculty were all inspired by their hard work. They will be truly missed.