The Play’s the Thing



Ellsworth High School School drama students will perform “Bound,” a one-act play written by EHS alumna Georgia Zildgian (bottom row, far right), at the Maine Drama Festival’s Class B regional competition this weekend at Mount Desert Island High School. Jasmine Ireland (bottom row, second from right) is directing the play based on the ancient Greek poet Aeschylus’s play “Prometheus Unbound.” PHOTO BY NAN LINCOLN
Ellsworth High School School drama students will perform “Bound,” a one-act play written by EHS alumna Georgia Zildgian (bottom row, far right), at the Maine Drama Festival’s Class B regional competition this weekend at Mount Desert Island High School. Jasmine Ireland (bottom row, second from right) is directing the play based on the ancient Greek poet Aeschylus’s play “Prometheus Unbound.”
PHOTO BY NAN LINCOLN

After years of lobbying, Ellsworth High School’s director of the Visual and Performing Arts Department Rebecca Wright successfully made her case entitling EHS drama students to compete in the Maine Drama Festival’s Class B regional competition being held Friday-Saturday, March 4-5, at Mount Desert Island High School.

Previously grouped in Class A, the change means EHS will compete this weekend with area schools including George Stevens Academy and Bucksport, Sumner Memorial and MDI high schools. It also means EHS’s drama students, directors, families and friends won’t have to travel so far afield.

In light of this welcome change, EHS’s one-act director Jasmine Ireland has commissioned an original play, “Bound,” from former student Georgia Zildgian. The one-act is based on the ancient Greek poet Aeschylus’s play “Prometheus Unbound,” but with a new and sadly still relevant twist.

“I’ve made the Prometheus character a woman named Promethea in this version,” says Zildgian. “Instead of bringing the gift of fire to mankind, she brings the gift of emancipation to womankind.”

In a country and world where women still struggle with basic human rights, this makes for a powerful theme. It is worth pondering how the world might have been different had women been recognized as equals in all human endeavors around the same time they started cooking on fires whatever their hairy-knuckled men folk brought home from the hunt.

After graduating from EHS, Zildgian earned a bachelor’s degree in theater arts at Boston University. In the years since, she worked as a dramaturge for a Portland theater company and as a freelance producer.

“When I started this theatrical journey here, it was all about acting,” she says. “But gradually my interest has broadened to writing, directing and all aspects of theater.”

She says writing this particular play has been a new experience for both her and Ireland in that it has been created for the specific actors.

“We cast the play before we wrote it,” Zildgian says. “So we created the characters based on the strengths of the actors.”

Having a play written specifically for them and having the writer attend the rehearsals is a new experience for the actors as well. Hannah Box, who will play Promethea, says this process has brought a new level of understanding of and involvement in their roles.

“If there is something we don’t understand, Georgia is there to explain it to us,” she says, “and,” Zildgian interjects, “by the same token if I can’t successfully convey my intent to the actors, I’ll make changes in the script.”

Most of those changes occurred at the start of rehearsals. Now in the final week before the festival, they are fine-tuning the work, which employs many elements of classic Greek theater, such as a chorus, masks and poetic, rather formal dialogue, as well as modern elements such as a synthesized musical score and haute couture costuming designed by student Jocelyn Davis.

One of the difficulties they were trying to resolve at last Saturday’s rehearsal was dealing with the long lengths of heavy chains, with which Promethea is bound through much of the play, and which from time to time get tangled or trip her up.

As this may occur during the actual performance Ireland worked on getting Box to respond to these annoyances in character rather than as a frustrated actor.

But it is clear how deeply the actors understand themselves and the characters in this play, and their interaction with one another is powerful.

The EHS one-act “Bound” will be performed Saturday, March 5, at 8 p.m. Other area Class B performances will be George Stevens Academy’s “A Midsummer’s Night Dream,” Friday, March 4, at 8 p.m.; MDIHS’s “The Other Shore,” Friday at 9 p.m.; Sumner Memorial High School’s “Miss Lizzie Borden,” Saturday at noon and Bucksport’s “Olympiaganza,” Saturday at 2 p.m.

Also competing this weekend will be plays from Shead, Searsport, Deer Isle-Stonington and Washington Academy. For a complete schedule go to www.mdidrama.org.

Nan Lincoln

Nan Lincoln

The former arts editor at the Bar Harbor Times writes reviews and feature stories for The Ellsworth American and Mount Desert Islander.

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