• RHS troupe performs ‘There Be Treasure’ on a grueling schedule
    By Josh O’Gorman
    STAFF WRITER | July 26,2013
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    Anthony Edwards / Staff Photo

    Members of Rutland High School’s Summer Encore Theatre perform “There Be Treasure Buried Here” at the Wallingford Town Hall on Wednesday evening.
    All ahoy! Area youth are invited to climb aboard and dig into a local treasure when Rutland High School’s Summer Encore Theatre presents an original play Saturday.

    With its production — intended for children ages 5 through 12 — the long-running theater group is both exploring familiar territory and sailing uncharted waters with its show, “There Be Treasure Buried Here,” said director Cathy Archer.

    “This show is unique in that we had no story,” said Archer, who — just three weeks ago — supplied her 20-strong acting troupe with the title and asked them to go from there. “We thought about doing something historically based, but we quickly tossed out that idea. We ended up with something where the pirates are the good guys, which is an interesting twist.”

    Archer discussed the show Wednesday afternoon as she sewed a ripped costume seam, just before a performance in the Wallingford Town Hall. It would be the third performance that day for the actors, with a fourth show that evening in Proctor.

    The actors created a very loose framework of a plot, involving a pair of villainous pawn shop owners who acquire a map and charter a pirate ship to take them to a desert island in search of buried treasure.

    The loose structure puts the cast’s improvisational skills to the test, because at various times during the show, the action will freeze and a pair of “storytellers” will give audience members the opportunity to decide what happens next.

    The show, much like the touring production, must be light on its feet. The crew painted backdrops and found props that can fit on a school bus as the troupe traveled the state this past week, playing venues from Colchester to Wilmington.

    “We play in all kinds of venues,” Archer said. “We play outside, in libraries, town halls and churches, and we need to have sets that can fit on the bus and that we can fit and adapt for any kind of space.”

    Within minutes of arriving at Wallingford, the theater troupe had unloaded and erected their backdrops and set their props. The actors then prepared for the show, with some filling more than one part. Katelyn Gurney, 14, plays Jack, a knife-wielding ship’s cook, as well as a fairy.

    “The storyline is basically the same, but sometimes things happen that you didn’t expect,” Gurney said.

    The schedule — 20 shows in nine days — is a bit grueling, said Kaleigh Gilbert, 15, who plays a treasure hunter named Cara.

    “It’s very tiring,” Gilbert said. “Yesterday (Tuesday), we had to leave at 5:30 in the morning and didn’t get back until 10:30 at night.”

    While challenging, multiple performances in such a short period of time have yielded positive results, Archer said.

    “The show continues to develop and change,” Archer said. “It’s amazing seeing the actors develop their characters in the moment. The characters become deeper and deeper with each show.”

    The show will drop anchor twice Saturday at the high school, with performances at 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. Admission is $4, with a $12 admission fee for a family of four.

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