Although many students participate in the Emmaus High School Drama Department, the program cannot always offer enough roles in the play for everyone.
Senior Leah Gaydos recognized that there was a problem and decided to solve it by creating a student-run comedy series, titled Room and Board, after drama teacher Jill Kuebler told her that she created one in college.
“Because of the small cast size this year in the play, we still had so many good actors who didn’t really have any opportunities to do anything,” Gaydos said. “So [Mrs. Kuebler] decided to bring [a comedy show] here.”
Gaydos produces the show and wishes to become a professional producer and hopes this series will help her in achieving her goal.
EHS students write, produce, direct, manage and perform in the show with little to no help from Kuebler.
In order to come up with the topic of the show, a group of writers, who volunteered to help with the script, discussed possible ideas, until they came up with Room and Board.
“It’s kind of like a ‘Friends’ meets ‘It’s Always Sunny in Philidelphia’ type of thing,” Gaydos said. “It’s about these five students who all end up in the same boarding school and end up in the same dorm building.”
The show features additional characters, but the main cast includes Autumn Clark, played by junior Gracie Flood; Blake Cooper, played by sophomore Ryan Murphy; Courtney Winters, played by sophomore Emma Rotman; Dereck Liam Garrets, played by sophomore Dariel Martinez; and Skylar Quinn, played by senior Rileigh O’Brien.
The writers began with a general idea for the show and elaborated on the specifics as they went. They wanted the show to be relatable for high schoolers, but with a few differences from EHS.
“We knew we wanted that core group of characters who were kind of like friends to represent just a little bit of the student body all together,” Gaydos said. “We wanted to take away the aspect of the restrictiveness of parents, and just guidance in general. It’s kind of like real life, but they are still high school students. So we came up with a boarding school because you’re not living with your parents, you’re not living with your family; you’re on your own, but you are still in high school.”
Senior Carmen Chan led the group as the script supervisor and was the head writer of the first episode. She will also perform as an extra or supporting character in some episodes.
Chan enjoys the cooperation that comes along with working in a group to write.
“It’s a ton of fun collaborating with others and let’s us stretch our creative muscles,” Chan said. “As a team, it’s great. Everyone is very open to each other’s ideas, and we only build on each other. There’s a lot of diverse minds working together, and we all enjoy it immensely.”
Chan has written film scripts in the past, but she enjoys the challenge of a new project.
“With each script, something new always presents itself as a roadblock for the writer,” she said. “For me writing the first episode, the biggest challenge was trying to introduce all of the main characters and balancing the amount of screen time they got… It’s a great new experience, and I’m excited to see the direction it goes.”
Once the group solidified the main topic of the first episode, and eventually the script, the actors joined in to read through it, and eventually began rehearsing.
One such actor, O’Brien, finds the opportunity to be part of the show and working with others to be welcoming.
“It was something to do, something to still get out there and do what I like to do, which is act,” O’Brien said. “I just really like all of the people that we get to work with.”
She also likes the experience of making something of her own with friends.
“It’s just fun to make something that’s your own,” she said. “It’s a new experience that a lot of high schools don’t get to do.”
Rotman, who learned of the show at a Drama Department meeting, also savors spending time with everyone involved.
“I love performing, and it’s awesome to be able to do that through the comedy series,” Rotman said. “Everyone involved is so nice, and it creates a really great atmosphere.”
Because producing the show is so time consuming, sophomore Lauren Leader aids Gaydos by assistant directing. Her job includes helping with blocking during the rehearsals, as well as doing administrative and organizational work for the show.
Of her many jobs, Leader most enjoys her role during rehearsals.
“Taking notes and blocking during rehearsals is probably my favorite part in what I do,” Leader said. “I get to work directly with the actors and everyone in the show.”
Other students also assist behind the scenes to make the show run smoothly.
Sophomore Addison Biello also has a big job in running the show by being the stage manager. Her main jobs include preparing the set and doing the lighting. Her favorite part of her job is watching the show comes together as she does the lighting for the final performance.
“It’s so great and rewarding to see everything come together smoothly and see how the audience reacts to it all,” Biello said. “When I’m doing lighting, I get to watch it all happen.”
After many practices, the group performs the episode for the Drama Department. Gaydos later uploads a recording of their final dress rehearsal to her personal YouTube channel.
Once the group finishes and posts one episode, the process starts over again.
Sophomore Josh Sanville wrote the script for the second episode. He has experience writing a couple of one act plays, however this episode will be his first produced work.
“I have always enjoyed writing,” Sanville said. “I find that it’s a good way to get my thoughts and feelings out on paper, and it’s a great medium for my imagination.”
Leader wishes to continue the show next year.
“I hope to continue it next year and bring people into the show that will continue it after I graduate as well,” Leader said.
To view the show, go to the YouTube channel Lmg Productions. The performance of episode two is at 4 p.m. Dec. 22.
Photos by Rachel Reed.