Souths play DNA

On Thursday and Friday of November, South High performed DNA, the annual fall performance. DNA is about a group of English teenagers who have to cover up for the accidental murder of their friend Adam, who they later find out never died. There are eleven teenagers and one of the main characters, Leah, had five monologues, all of them multiple pages long. Bella Yow, junior at South high and experienced actress, played Leah in DNA. To get an inside look at the show that was put on I interviewed Bella Yow about her part and the show.

What was the hardest part of being in the show?

I think, for me, the hardest part of being in DNA was memorizing lines and figuring out my character. Everyone in the show had to play such complex characters with a myriad of backgrounds. But because of the amount of stage time I personally had, I really had to get inside of Leah’s head to figure out what made her who she was and why she behaved the way she did with all of her insane rambling.  All of these were delivered to someone who only spoke back to her a few times, usually with just a few words.

What was the best  part of the show?

I think the best part of the show was getting to work with Dr. Clare, our director, and all of the crazy talented actors here at South. I have been performing since I was two, but because I am a transfer student this year, I was beyond nervous to join the theatre department. I loved being able to work with Dr. Clare and his surreal direction. I also loved getting to know everyone throughout the entire process. As far as my favorite moment in the actual show, I always loved performing the moment when Dana (Deja E.) and Lizzie (Maddi B.) confront Leah about the murder of Adam, and this group of kids realize that their actions have lead to real consequences, like an innocent man facing the rest of his life in prison. My character Leah really starts to unravel and become more frantic as she debates her morals while everyone around her seems to be looking to her for answers.

How did you learn all those monologues?

I have no idea! I memorized a lot of them through repetition, usually with just me running the monologues sentence-by-sentence over and over again in my room until I got them right. Other times, before rehearsals, I would grab another actor and force them to run lines with me, stopping me whenever I messed up on a line. A lot of the memorization for my monologues, though, really came from me remembering that this was a girl rambling on and on because she was so scared of being left alone, that she rambled to fill the silence. The sentences all connected (for the most part), so it was easy to remember what would come next once the thought process began.

Did you want the role? If so why?

Yes! I actually did not read the script before the auditions, which is something that I never forget to do, but this time, for whatever reason, I just didn’t. The auditions consisted of a segment of cold reads for each character, and all of the auditionees read through one scene together before being asked to read for specific characters. About halfway through auditions, I went up to Dr. Clare and told him that I did not write down a specific character on my audition application that I was interested in, but after glancing through the script, I really wanted to play Leah. I read for Leah one time throughout the whole audition, and it was not even a full sentence! I am not really sure why I was drawn to Leah so much. I think a lot of the reason why I wanted to play her was because  I saw all of the massive monologues that she had to deliver. I wanted to really get inside of her head and figure out why she was so frantic and endless with her words. I am usually typecast as ingenue or damsel-in-distress type characters, like Wendy Darling in Peter Pan or Maid Marian in Robin Hood.  So this was something completely different from anything I had ever done before and definitely the most difficult role I have ever tackled.

How many plays have you been in? Which one was your favorite?

I actually don’t know how many plays I’ve been in! I started performing in straight plays when I was eight. But I have also been doing musicals for a long time, as well. Off the top of my head, I’d say that I’ve been in over twenty plays. I think my favorite role was Bebe Benzenheimer in A Chorus Line, which is a crazy high-energy dance show based on real people that takes place in the 1970s and is all about dancers in New York City auditioning for the chorus of a Broadway show. Each dancer tells their story of how they ended up as a dancer and why they do what they love. I was fifteen when I performed in that show and turned sixteen near the end. It was definitely a heart-wrenching show for me, and I cried almost every night, whether it was during my song, “At the Ballet”, the song about sacrifice, “What I Did For Love”, or the grand finale, “One”. During every show, I would just be hit with the realization of “I’m actually doing this! This is my job! I can’t believe this is real!”

What was your biggest fear before the show?

This sounds so silly, but there is a part in DNA where I have to throw a Tupperware container with a “dead mouse” offstage, and during our invited dress rehearsal, I accidentally threw it and hit my best friend, who drove all the way out from Centennial, in the face (sorry, Paige!). I was absolutely mortified, and I was giggling throughout the rest of the show. People are still laughing at me for it. Someone even told the principal what happened! For the rest of the performances, I wasn’t worried about the sold-out shows or forgetting my monologues. I was worried I was going to hit someone else in the face again. Luckily, I never did!

What is your advice to any upcoming freshman who wish to be in school plays?

My best advice for incoming freshmen who want to join the theatre department at their high school is to take risks, be bold, but be ready to learn. During my very first audition for my freshman show, I was so nervous that I almost threw up before I went into the audition room. I told myself that I knew what I was doing, and I was prepared, and I had to do the best that I could to leave an impression. Sure enough, I was one of the only freshmen that was cast! Even as an upperclassman watching auditions, I can assure younger theatre hopefuls that it is so interesting to directors when you are different. When you make choices that no one else in the room has done yet. When you perform your cold read in a completely different way than the people before you. I notice a lot of performers hold themselves back in auditions, whether it’s out of fear of being judged or anything else, but it is so important to leave everything you’ve got in that audition room. That being said, being an underclassman in a show, I definitely have to say that you need to take the opportunity and learn from the upperclassmen. Notice what they do, and figure out how you can learn from them. You are also going to learn so much throughout your high school career, but especially in your freshman year because you are being thrown into an atmosphere and environment that’s on a completely different level from anything you have ever done before. I absolutely know I learned the most with my theatrical career during my freshman year. Listen to your director and make sure to take the notes that you’re given!