13 Monologues + One Speech, Ferndale Theatre’s “Got Rights”…

13 Monologues + One Speech, Ferndale Theatre’s “Got Rights” Goes Online Feb. 5

(Amy Butters, photos: Mandy Reinke, Feb. 5, 2021)

Ferndale, MI – Like many parents of high school students in the fall, I was worried about how my daughter’s after-school activities would be affected in the pandemic.

So I was so relieved when Ferndale High School’s theatre department came through.

Ferndale’s Student Enterprise Theatre’s original video production, “Got Rights?” is now available to watch online at YouTube.com.

“Got Rights?” is a collection of monologues from 13 plays and one historical speech. Twelve FHS students rehearsed individually with director Kelly Komlen over Zoom for several weeks and one by one video-recorded their parts on the high school stage on a recent Sunday.

It wasn’t the usual theatre experience, with rehearsals after school culminating in the whole cast performing in full costume in front of a live audience. But it was still a chance for the student actors to memorize a few lines and explore some new characters. My daughter even found a part of her costume in my closet (now that’s a first!).

With Ferndale High School offering online-only instruction since September (well, since March), only some in-person extracurriculars were allowed, with COVID-19 protocols. Komlen needed to devise a theatre experience that would accommodate the masking and social distancing requirements. At the same time, she was interested in giving students an opportunity to address issues in the news, such as the presidential election and Black Lives Matter. Plus, Komlen was new to the director position, so she was not yet familiar with the students and their experience levels

So a collection of monologues curated around a theme seemed to be the best approach.

The plays in the production include “What the Constitution Means to Me,” which ran on Broadway in 2019. Through mutual friends, Komlen contacted playwright Heidi Schreck and got her OK to use excerpts in “Got Rights?”

Portions of “To Kill A Mockingbird,” a play adapted by Aaron Sorkin from Harper Lee’s novel, are also in the Ferndale production, as are “Fun Home” by Lisa Kron, “The Ecclesiazuæ” by Aristophanes and a speech by Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

I’m proud of this group of kids and am grateful to Komlen and Ferndale Schools for giving them this experience.

Because the performance is online only, tickets (usually priced at $5-10) are not being sold. Viewers instead are invited to make donations to one of the following:

The Ferndale Education Foundation’s fund drive to buy books for a diverse library in classrooms throughout the school district.

Ferndale Schools Fine Arts Boosters, whose annual fund-raising raffle usually happens this time of year but is not happening this year because of the pandemic.

Actors Fund, which provides support to people who work in the entertainment industry, especially during the coronavirus pandemic.

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