“Almost, Maine” thrives from Decatur Performs partnership

With the drama department now part of Decatur Performs, Decatur High School’s (DHS) fall play “Almost, Maine” has benefitted from newfound collaboration and recognition.

Drama teacher Kate McNeil directed “Almost, Maine,” a collection of nine vignettes that all take place in the play’s namesake town. Decatur Performs approached McNeil about including the drama department in their organization. McNeil was excited about the opportunity.

“I didn’t grow up with that kind of organization supporting my high school theater, so it’s a pretty neat thing to have…and I just wanted to jump on board,” McNeil said.

Reingold (left) played Gayle in the scene “Getting It Back.” In the scene, she gives back the love her longtime boyfriend, Lendall (played by senior Jaxon Martinez, right) gave her in the form of sacks. Photo courtesy of Keson Graham.

Decatur Performs, an organization that helps fund the performing arts at DHS and Renfroe Middle School, was previously only comprised of chorus and musical theater. The change has caused drama and musical theater to share resources more, senior Maisy Winn, who played Rhonda, said.

Senior Halia Reingold, who played Gayle, believes the change has made “the divide between the plays and the musicals close. Before there was a [divide] between the two shows and kids who did the plays never did the musicals, and vice versa. Now a lot of the kids do both, so everyone gets along much better,” Reingold said.

The drama department only had one straight play in the 2018-2019 school year. With the support from Decatur Performs, the drama department has been able to add another straight play to the 2019-2020 school year due to an increase in funding.

This new partnership has also increased the drama department’s visibility in the community outside of Decatur High School, Winn said. Winn feels that “Almost, Maine” has gotten more attention than previous plays and that tickets were advertised more.

Winn (right) played Rhonda in the scene “Seeing the Thing” where she tries to make out the message in the painting given to her by Dave (played by sophomore Charlie Miller, left). Photo courtesy of Keson Graham.

McNeil hopes that the partnership will help the plays become as well-known as the musicals so that kids who want to do drama and not musicals can take advantage of that opportunity. Her goal is for the drama program to thrive for years to come.

“[The drama program] will run itself if you set a good foundation,” McNeil said.