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Harrison High's Student-Directed Play Opens Friday

HARRISON, N.Y. – Harrison High School students are busy rehearsing for the annual student-directed play, which they will perform this weekend.

Co-directed by seniors Emma Adler and Jose Porretti, the students will perform “The Children’s Hour.” Adler and Porretti have previous experience with acting, but neither has had a chance to direct a play until now.

“We picked this play to show how far a lie can go,” Porretti said. “We felt it was appropriate for a high school setting.”

Adler, who recently performed in the school’s production of “42nd Street,” said directing allows her to put her own spin on the play and lets her look at the production as a whole rather than just her individual part. But directing isn’t as easy, since the directors have authority over their peers, which occasionally leads to creative differences.

“These are the same people that see you in their classes,” Porretti said. “Why should you have authority over them? But they respect me and I respect them, and that has helped me do my job.”

Having to cooperate teaches the students responsibility, said the play’s adviser, Nina Mansfield, who also teaches English at Harrison High. Though she has to intervene sometimes, Mansfield said, the students have made sure to stay organized. Mansfield added that the experience as both a director and an actor helps teach the students responsibility and organization and helps build their self-esteem.

“Theater is remarkable for students no matter what career they are planning to do,” Mansfield said. “They learn how to work in a group and learn that it’s not just about them.”

“The Children’s Hour” tells the story of how one lie can destroy someone’s life forever. Set in an all-girls boarding school in the 1930s, the play touches on controversial topics for its time, such as homosexuality. District Superintendent Louis Wool said the play is aimed at audiences 14 and over.

The first performance is at 7 p.m. Friday at the school’s Performing Arts Center. Additional performances are at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m..

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