Center Stage

February 15, 2024

The Voice of Lakewood Presents…

The High School Play

A Drama in Three Acts

S. Pruzansky

Cast of characters

Tenth-grade teacher and sewing head: Sari Weinman*

Ninth-grade teacher: Leah Kleinman*

Twelfth-grade teacher: Rivky Rudel*

Mother of the main part: Chaya Rivka Katz*

Mother of three high school girls: Esther Shreiber*

Play director: Chani Panish

Ninth-grade student: Aviva Kleinberg*

Twelfth-grade student: Raizy Pritzker*

Welcome to our long-awaited annual production.

We’ve worked for weeks, practicing for hours to bring you this outstanding production in song, dance and drama.

Sit back and relax as we travel on an unforgettable journey into the heart and soul of an essential part of every Bais Yaakov girl’s high school experience: the High School Play.

Act I: Of Tryouts, Tears, and Triumphs

Scene 1: I want to be a star

Chaya Rivka: I know some people don’t love the idea of their girls starring on stage. One of my close friend’s daughters actually landed a lead role in her school’s play, but her mother didn’t let her accept the part. She feels like it can get to her head and it gives these girls unfair expectations for life, when this kind of talent isn’t used much and there’s no one to applaud when you make the right choices. Personally, I feel our girls gain so much from play season that it’s a no-brainer.

Raizy: Play is designed to help girls shine. But girls need to realize that not everyone can be a star on stage. We can’t have an entire play of main parts or put three-quarters of the school in dance. Part of the play experience is learning to accept that this may not be your time to shine. And that’s okay.

Leah: In the school I teach in, we make an effort to include in the play the girls who need a little lift. If there’s a girl who’s not doing so well in class or is very much on the sidelines in the social scene, we’ll give her a few lines in drama or put her in dance.

Sari: It can be very hard for some girls to be in the same part of play for all four years of high school. I wish I could tell my students that if you are like that, just recognize that not every girl can shine in the same way. And not everyone will be a star on stage. Some girls will shine on stage, some will shine in class, and some will only really blossom after high school.

Scene 2: the list is out

Leah: One school I teach in has a new way of letting the girls know who made it into drama, dance, etc. It used to be a huge scene when they hung up those lists. There was shrieking and lots of crying, and some girls really just lost it—all in public! That day was always so intense; you felt it throughout the school.

But this year, the school put all the information on a hotline. This way, the girls got to call in from the privacy of their own homes and find out what group they had gotten into or what part they’d landed—or hadn’t. Everyone got to process the news calmly and privately. There was no scene, no public shaming. Win-win.

Esther: The day those lists go up, my girls leave to school like they’re going on a first date. None of them can even think of eating breakfast. The nerves are insane!

Raizy: Don’t get me started on those lists! There’s legit not one girl who isn’t scarred at some point in her high school years from those lists.

Chani: The nature of a play is not fair. There will always be some girls who shine more than others. The alternative is not doing a play at all—which the majority does not prefer. As disappointing as it is not to land your ideal part, most girls are still able to throw themselves enthusiastically into whatever aspect of the production they have been placed in.

Scene 3: the joys

Rivky: My favorite part of play is watching everyone shine in talents that are not related to the classroom. Girls who don’t do so well academically or socially may get a part in the play, and they’re finally noticed. They start to feel good about themselves and get a huge boost in confidence.

I also love seeing girls who are not friends work together. Often, there are girls who would be great friends, but they’re not in the same class and may not be the exact same type, so it doesn’t happen. And then play comes along, and these girls are working together on the same thing, and it unifies them. They develop lasting friendships through play, and it’s amazing to watch.

Leah: The best partof play is watching the girls who have a hard time in class, barely take notes, and blank out on tests shine on stage. It really pumps them up and does so much for them.

Sari: I love seeing the girls’ talents come to life. It’s incredible to watch, and it helps us remember that each girl has so, so much to offer.

Aviva: Play gave me the chance to meet so many girls I’d otherwise never have anything to do with.

Act II: Practice Makes Perfect

Scene 4: Schoolgirl Song-Dance

Rivky: As a 12th-grade teacher, I can tell you that play season definitely turns school into camp. The school is on wheels. Ninth grade may not feel it as much, but in the 12th grade, where the girls are the heads of play groups, there’s almost no point in walking into class. I can come teach a class and find a total of seven girls sitting there.

Leah: Play is amazing; it really breaks up the year for the girls. They’ve just had midterms, which can be super-stressful and intense, and now there’s still a long winter ahead. I just sometimes wish they’d give off full periods for everyone to practice together instead of officially having class, with most of the girls out for play.

Scene 5: The Parents’ Struggle Dance

Esther: For me, play season is about a lot more than chauffeuring my kids to and from practice. I have a houseful of girls, and some of them have more stage talent than others. My first three girls starred in their high school plays—one landed a lead role, another was head of dance, and another was in two dances each year. And then my fourth daughter came along, and she’s in song-dance year after year after year. I watch her drag herself through play season, and I just want to cry. She will always remember that she’s the one sister who wasn’t a star in the school play.

Chaya Rivka: Play season is definitely not fun for the parents. Between driving our girls to practice, having them out of the house for hours each night, and funding their takeout suppers, I think most parents are relieved when it’s finally over. I do know some schools provide transportation and dinners for the girls, which is something I think every school should do. Another idea, which I’m sure some teachers won’t like, is to have all practices take place during school hours.

That being said,I loved watching my daughter play the main part in her high school production. As I watched her on stage, my heart was full. But when the play was over, I knew I had a job ahead of me. Now it was time to teach my daughter some anivus.

Scene 6: standards and pressure

Chani: I am very upfront with the girls, and it’s important to me that they know exactly what they are getting into. The intensity definitely spikes as productions approaches, but so does the fun!

Leah: It’s a lot of pressure and responsibility for our girls, but I think that’s a good thing. Let them learn that they don’t have to be home studying the entire night and that there’s more to life than tests and quizzes.

Rivky: Some schools set a very high standard, but the pressure isn’t really on the girls. I’m a sub-head, and the pressure to deliver an excellent show is really on me, not on the girls.

Act III: Lessons for Life

Scene 7: Life Skills Song-Dance

Chani: Play provides a great opportunity for different kinds of girls to work together. Girls learn to get along with and appreciate people they otherwise wouldn’t interact with. This is an invaluable lesson they can take with them for life. And of course, it’s also something out of the academic field. It gives them the opportunity to discover talents and excel in other ways.

Rivky: I’m heavily involved in the play, and I oversee the girls in creating costumes and props. It’s a great skill for them to learn for life. They’re given an idea and a concept, and it’s up to them to learn how to figure it out in their own way. And they do. There’s lots of trial and error along the way, but at the end of the day, they create something amazing, and they really own it.

Sari: I head the sewing crew in my school, and there are so many girlswho join the crew with very little sewing skills, and the play gives them the opportunity to really develop these skills to a professional level. We sometimes have girls who have never touched a sewing machine but have a natural talent for it, which they only discover during play season. Who knows, these girls can grow up to become sought-after seamstresses!

Scene 8: Disaster Dance: when things go south

  • Chani: Nothing great is ever achieved without some people disagreeing in some way or another. I have learned a lot during my years of directing, and I’m still learning. I’ve always been privileged to work with wonderful people, and every play has been a growing experience in the best ways. I have also seen girls learn to straddle their differences with impressive maturity and grace.

Rivky: There’s always some kind of disaster before play. But we work with the girls. Every group has a meeting midway through play season. We ask the girls: Do you feel confident that you will be ready for the play? Do you need more help? What do you need to make things easier and more doable for you? And we listen to what they tell us. For example, a group might need more girls to help them finish everything on time, or they might need professional, outside help. We make sure the girls have what they need to get to the finish line as easily as possible.

Raizy: Yes, there will be tears during play season. It’s normal. It’s expected. And we all deal with it.

Aviva: The first time I was late to song-dance practice, the heads really gave it to me, and I was almost in tears. But I learned my lesson and never came late to practice again.

Scene 9: finale theme song

  • Chani: A play is an incredible forum to bring out a real Torah message. I love watching the girls step into the roles of people who lived during different times and faced various challenges. When striving to ensure their character is realistically portrayed, they must step into their character’s shoes and see through their eyes. They come to realize what heroism is required to overcome whatever it is their character is struggling with, and hopefully with it, what inner greatness we are all capable of achieving.

Sari: The school I teach in is super-careful about always choosing a strong theme and making sure the girls know what the play is really about. They’ll meet with the girls who are writing the theme song and make sure they get the right message across. Some years, they’ll do a lighter play, but even then, they’ll always make sure the message is strong and it really comes through.

Raizy: In my school, they always assemble the girls before the play and speak to us about its theme. They make sure we know the message the play is teaching us and that we recognize that we’re doing so much more than just putting on a fabulous show.

Curtain Call

Thank you for joining us tonight! We hope you enjoyed the High School Play.

*Name has been changed