Teachers write their own OAP for competition


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Theatre director Jill Henson works on movement and expression with some of her cast.

When you an original story, you get to decide what happens. No one can tell you how it’s supposed to go. This exactly what OAP director Jill Henson  and UIL Coordinator Melonie Menefee did over the summer – they wrote their own play, which the OAP theatre cast and crew will compete with this spring.

“When you do an original show, that puts everyone in the audience on the same level,” Henson said. “It makes it hard for other people to tell you something is supposed to be a certain way. The way you have it is right, and no one gets to tell you how it goes.”

Henson wrote the bulk of the play, which contains short stories within larger stories; Menefee jumped in with helping to fine-tune the writing and contributed mainly to the short stories, she said.

“We spent so much time on it, reading it and going over and over each little detail,” Menefee said. “We feel like we know those characters already, like we could hold a conversation with them. They become real after so much time with them.”

Henson was contacted by a member of the Texas Educational Theatre Association and was asked to hold a reading of the play for an audience at their summer state conference.

“The play was already written when we went this summer to the conference in Austin,” Menefee said. “The readers and audience gave us their opinions and ideas on different parts of the play. We went back over all of that before we submitted it for UIL approval.”

Once the play received the nod from UIL earlier this month, Henson and Menefee knew they would be using the play for competition this spring.

“I’ve competed on different levels with different amounts of success with plays that I haven’t written, so writing something original won’t guarantee failure or success,” Henson said. “I do think that knowing exactly what we had in mind when we wrote it, and knowing what we hope to accomplish, is a huge bonus. I am excited because the first time it’s shown it will be a world premiere.”

As excited as Henson and Menefee were when the play was approved, there were others glad to hear the news as well.

“I think it’s incredible that we have teachers that can do something as amazing as writing a play,” Principal Tracy Gleghorn said. “We have so many teachers with amazing talents.”

Students who are doing OAP with year can’t wait for this season.

“I think it’s a great story and great work,” senior Abby Smith said. “I can’t wait for OAP to start this season. It is going to be awesome.”