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Absolutely Fooling Around in Westfield

by TOMMY PUGH and SAMANTHA ENGLAND - Thespians give the inside scoop on Westfield’s production of “Fools” and how they prepared.

WESTFIELD, Ind. (Nov. 14, 2019) - The week of Nov. 14 was an exciting time for the thespians of Westfield High School. It was the week of opening night for the fall play, “Fools,” accompanied by the pre-show “An Absolutely True Story (As Told by a Bunch of Lying Liars)”. Actors and actresses were well-prepared to ‘go stupid’ and live up to the name of the play.

“I just kind of completely ignored and suppressed everything that had happened over the course of the day and just accepted the fact that I'm a schoolteacher,” Sam Vance (10) said. “Anything I want as a person? No. Wrong. I am just a schoolteacher.”

Vance played the lead character, Leon Tolchinsky. His character was a schoolmaster tasked with educating the ditzy Sophia Zubritsky, played by Rachel Waller (12), in order to break the town’s curse of stupidity.

“I really remind myself of Sophia,” Waller said. “I definitely was typecast, but it's okay. I enjoyed it a lot. After a stressful day, I would let all of the tension go and I'd be like, ‘Here we are, and now I'm going to be dumb.’”

The show’s chaotic storyline included many ridiculous scenes from both Waller and Vance, including clambering around the Zubritskys’ house and sketchy adoptions.

“Going up and down the ladder in the balcony scene is fun,” Vance said. “I do really love that. I think my favorite part is probably my interaction with [the villain], Count Gregor. At act two we talk about him adopting me.”

Rachel Waller (12) as Sophia Zubritsky waits on her balcony for Leon to climb up and see her (photo by KAREN WALLER)

Waller also had her share of favorite moments, including the one that first brought her into the lead role at auditions.

“I think my favorite scene was most likely when he was trying to teach me in the second act,” Waller said. “That was what we were auditioning with when we first tried out for the roles. So it was fun to go back and really get into those characters. And the whole ‘one plus one equals two’ has been literally a part of my life since I started saying it.”

“Fools” and all of its chaos was preceded by the pre-show, “An Absolutely True Story As Told by a Bunch of Lying Liars,” in which Dezi Dagey was one of the prominent characters.

“I played Brenna,” Dagey said. “She was a teenage girl who was weirdly obsessed with Nutella, and was friends with the main character Frannie.”

Dagey enjoyed playing a humorous character that was outside of her normal realm of performance.

“She was just kinda wacky, so I could have a lot of fun with her and make people laugh with how dramatic I could be with it,” Dagey said.

Loryn Fry (10) and Dezi Dagey (12) play video games as characters in “An Absolutely True Story.” (Photo courtesy of KAREN WALLER)

To produce both shows, it took a lot of sacrifice. The main loss is time.

“You have to give up any other activities you're going to be doing, dedicate yourself to theatre,” Vance said. “Basically it's just like a good extra hour of sleep you could have gotten, you have to give that up. But it's all for a good cause. I love it.”

With such rigorous schedules, actors also lost money, giving up time from work to practice.

“I actually took a month off of my work,” Waller said. “I work at Panera, so I just said, ‘Sorry, I'm not going to show up for a month.’ There's one day where I spent nine hours there after finals. So I've given up a lot of sleep, which I'm catching up on right now.”

Even with the sleep deprivation and loss of time, actors still enjoyed spending their time together and sharing experiences.

“This is my seventh show at Westfield High School,” Waller said. “I have been in the ensemble for three years straight. I have never gotten a bigger role with more lines from the very first day. So I finally got a lead and that was cool.”

With the end of the show, there were benefits, since it was clearly consuming much of their time.

Cast members of “Fools” as villagers eagerly listen to the words of the town schoolmaster, played by Sam Vance (10) (photo by KAREN WALLER)

“I'm very glad that really long rehearsals with us planning on staying to a certain time and then just completely ignoring it and staying another hour are done,” Vance said. “I'm glad that's over because it's just been slightly stressful.”

The show was a new experience for Waller, who, after many years of theatre, had a different perspective.

“I've been friends with these people since my very first show at Westfield, so it was definitely fun having a larger role because it was just a different way of interacting with them,” Waller said. “We're buddies. We hang out outside of class or outside of school, but like it was just different for me personally.”

Eventually, the play must come to an end, but all of the actors were proud of their finished product.

“Sometimes seeing a show can sound boring, but every single show I have ever seen is a whole lot of fun, so I would suggest going to see more if you have the chance,” Dagey said.

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