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The Paly Voice

The Student News Site of Palo Alto High School

The Paly Voice

The Student News Site of Palo Alto High School

The Paly Voice

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Preview: ‘The Birds’ to bring humor, creativity to the stage

From left to right, Athya Paramesh, Eloise Dumas, Kyle Vetter and Jack Champlin act out a scene from “The Birds” in Palo Alto High School’s Performing Arts Center. The theme for this year’s Paly Theater productions is “Twist on a Classic” and Paramesh said the play was chosen because of its relevance to texts read in English classes at Paly. “The Comedy Literature class reads Don Zolidis’s modern adaptation of ‘The Birds,’ which is the version we are performing,” Paramesh said. “This gives us the perfect opportunity to collaborate with their class to learn from their analysis of the script and also give them a look at our process of bringing that script to life.” (Photo: Paly Theatre)

Complete with satire, comedy and references to Greek mythology, “The Birds: A Modern Adaptation” will take the stage for its opening night 7:30 p.m. tomorrow in the Performing Arts Center for Palo Alto High School theater program’s second play of the year. 

The play is based on a modern adaptation of the Greek comedy by Aristophanes, centering on two miscreants, Pithetaerus and Eulpides. Convinced that humans are doomed, they plan to collaborate with birds to take over the world. 

Theater teacher and director Sarah Thermond said she chose the play for its modern language and jokes to contrast the classic production of ‘Hamlet’ planned for the spring.

“This is by far the most over-the-top and funny play we are doing this year,” Thermond said. “‘Little Women’ and ‘Hamlet’ both have very serious themes and deep messages to them and are very personal stories. ‘The Birds’ offers some pretty pointed social commentary, but it does so in a very light and fun way.”

Thermond said the rehearsal process is innovative in that it allows the actors to improvise and incorporate their own jokes. 

“It’s the kind of show where I can genuinely say to actors and designers that if they have an idea for a joke, they should bring it in and we can probably use it,” Thermond said. “Rehearsals are very collaborative, and we keep adding new bits into scenes.”

Senior Athya Paramesh, who plays Eulpides, said preparation for the show started in August, and a majority of the rehearsals have been devoted to making the play fast paced while still being engaging.

“We’re learning that you have to be much more precise with timing, movement and pacing in a comedy versus a more realistic show since you have to keep the audience on their toes,” Paramesh said. “Even in a show like this one, where you can’t really ever predict what the characters will get up to next, we still want the show to move quickly enough that audiences can’t get ahead of us.”

Starring as Pithetaerus, senior Jack Champlin said one of the challenges of the play was adapting to the personal humor in the plot. 

“Comedic acting doesn’t come quite as naturally to me as dramatic,” Champlin said. “It all has to be so high energy, and there needs to be a constant level of precision for the jokes to land.”

The play also has many complex elements including dance and stage combat, which Thermond said has been another aspect to maneuver.

“We have a pretty elaborate set that we are loading into the PAC two weeks before the show, so it was a challenge on the tech end to get it built and also in rehearsals to try to plan staging,” Thermond said. “But our tech crew working on build and paint has been fantastic and on top of it, so we’re on track to get it all done in a timely fashion so we can refine our staging.”

According to Paramesh, the show aims to encourage activism through whimsical and lighthearted means.

“The characters don’t give up because they are unhappy with the state of humanity — they seek out the kingdom of the birds to try and make a better world,” Paramesh said. “It’s a show that encourages everyone, no matter their size, their feathers — or lack thereof — to take part in the creation of the world they want to see.”

“The Birds” will take place 7:30 p.m. Nov. 4, 10 & 11 and 2:00 p.m. Nov. 5 & 12 in the PAC.

Tickets are $10 for students/seniors and $15 for adults, for sale on the Paly Theater program’s website.

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About the Contributors
Anna Feng
Anna Feng, Senior Staff Writer
Anna Feng (Class of 2024) joined The Voice her sophomore year. Outside of journalism, she enjoys volunteering, listening to podcasts and spending time outdoors.
Maxwell Zhang
Maxwell Zhang, Senior Staff Writer
Maxwell Zhang (Class of 2024) joined The Voice his sophomore year and wishes to pursue management and STEM in college.

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    Spencer Wu-ChinNov 3, 2023 at 8:34 pm

    I am hyped!!