Briarcliff High School Presents Its Fall Drama: The Voice of the Prairie

Student actors perform in The Voice of the Prairie

Stories can have immense power over us; they can connect us to one another and they can also heal us. Briarcliff High School will present its fall drama this weekend in a moving show that focuses on the healing power of stories and how they can connect people.

The play The Voice of the Prairie by John Oliver, offers a glimpse at life at around the turn of the century in middle America, particularly in the beginning days of radio, and although it is set long ago, many might find it resonates in today’s world.

“It is great to be back in person,” said theater Director Paul Kite. “For this production there are 13 students performing, so that will allow us to tell a more intimate story.”

According to Mr. Kite, the play takes its audience on a journey of young love on the run and middle-aged longing, a sepia-tinged early America of prairie lands and radio days, and a “strange world where wooden boxes can pull ghosts out of the sky.”

Flashing between the 1890s and 1920s, the play follows Davey Quinn (who later goes by the name David), telling stories in the early days of radio about his youthful adventures with Frankie, a blind young woman. Stories are powerful, radio is magical and so much lurks beneath the surface of our memories.

“I chose this play because it is something I have loved for a very long time,” Mr. Kite said. “It is lighthearted but it deals with real life. It is about the connective power of story and how we can heal each other through the stories we tell.”

According to Mr. Kite, the play is timely and reflects modern life.

“Despite the fact that we are connected by the internet and social media, we keep getting further and further apart, so the show is about reconnecting. Just as in today’s world we feel gratitude that the opportunity to connect to others is starting to come back into our lives.”

The healing power of connections is a main theme in the play.

“The characters are kind of broken individuals who are unhappy but throughout the play they reconnect to each other so in some ways the play is about how these connections heal us,” Mr. Kite said.

Senior Benjamin Jelinek, who plays the role of David Quinn, agrees that the play can reflect today’s modern world.

“David gets separated from the girl he loves but after he becomes famous by telling stories on the radio, she hears him and goes to find him and they reunite,” Benjamin said. “This is similar to today’s world in the sense that David telling his stories on the radio is like somebody posting on Instagram. This sends a message: get in touch with the people you lost touch with.”

Benjamin, who has been performing in plays and musicals since he was in middle school, said he can find some similarities to David.

“In the beginning of the play David is very nervous and shy and lets people push him around, and over time he gets more respected. There were times in my life when I did not feel heard,” he said.

The play will be performed live, and, in accordance with guidelines, the audience will sit with one seat in between. In addition, everyone, including the performers, will be masked.

“The performers will wear clear masks,” Mr. Kite said. “It is great to be performing live in the theater – we have a beautiful set, and we are very excited to be back!” he said.

The performances will take place at the following times:

  • Friday, November 19, at 7:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, November 20, at 7:30 p.m.
  • Sunday, November 21, at 2:30 p.m.

All tickets are $15 and can be purchased at  www.showtix4u.com. For questions about tickets, contact briarcliffticketsales@gmail.com. It is recommended for students in middle school and up.

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