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Faculty members unite to perform in radio comedy


Some writers start with a rough draft, then another draft, then they tweak it a little more, and then write their final draft. According to parapro James Wood, he used sticky notes and little pads of paper to write out his play, The Document.

Wood’s radio comedy about the signing of the Declaration of Independence had an all faculty cast with Dr. Michael Riggle, Mark Ferguson, Cameron Muir, Fred Kocian, Joe Karlovsky, Dave Garbe, Dave Hill and Dr. Brian Wegley.

Wegley saw the play as a great opportunity to work with other faculty members.

“Here is something that is very unusual for us all to be involved in,” Wegley said. “I think you get to see a side of people that you don’t normally get to see, which I really appreciate.”

Muir said that this was not something he would normally do. However, Wood believes they all had fun participating.

“I think they like doing things out of their normal realm of office work,” Wood said. “It’s just completely different.”

According to Wood, one of the more difficult aspects of it was integrating comedy into the play.

“I write from the top of my head; I write what I think is funny, then I try out,” Wood said. “I walk up to people in the hall and say, ‘Do you think this is funny?’ and if they laugh, then I go with it.”

Riggle thought that it was interesting that Wood encapsulated humor with the historical event.

“It really reflects his creativity, thinking about what would be a comedic version of these men all at this convention [and] what kinds of arguments or what kinds of concerns would be going on,” Riggle said.

Wood acredits much of his inspiration to the South students and faculty.

“This never would have come about if I hadn’t started working here,” Wood said. “Watching everything that’s done here, and the students that perform here do all this work, inspired me to write.”

During their first and only rehearsal, the actors read through the script and discussed the roles that each of their characters played, according to Muir. Since it was a radio comedy, voices were the most important aspect of the play.

“We were toying around with different kinds of voices,” Muir said. “Do we have an accent, do we not? What kind of accent? Things like that.”

Wegley said his favorite aspect of the play was that it was a radio comedy.

“Personally, I’m just a big fan of storytelling on the radio,” Wegley said. “If you’ve ever listened to stories on the radio, there’s something different to it. Like if you go to a movie, that experience is very different than reading a book.”

Throughout the play there were laughs coming from the audience, mostly from Choir Director Stevi Marks.

“I loved the sense of humor and the moments in history that he captured,” Marks said. “It’s fun to think of these iconic men as real people.”

According to Kocian, faculty members at South have the opportunity to get involved in activities.

“People have their jobs, but then they have outside interests and [Wood] acted on his,” Kocian said. “He’s sharing it with people, which I think is a great thing.”

Wood’s play has been selected to be archived in Monticello, the Thomas Jefferson museum in Virginia. According to Jack Robertson, the Foundation Librarian at the Thomas Jefferson library, people are starting to come up with new, creative ways of viewing Thomas Jefferson.

“We don’t have any radio comedies that are about Jefferson,” Robertson said. “His play is very unusual and unique in that way.”

Wood said that the whole process of preparing his play for Monticello has been “surreal” for him.

“I’m kind of shocked […] that they wanted it to be there,” Wood said.

According to Wood, this wasn’t the first year some of these teachers had participated in this kind of production. They performed The Christmas Carol last year that Wood directed.

Another reason for performing the plays for the last two years was to raise money for charities. Last year they raised money for the Toys for Tots foundation. This year, they chose to support The Caring Hearts Foundation.

“I think we’re all hoping just to get a good feeling about making a contribution to something that’s a larger effort that people might enjoy,” Riggle said. “And  [it] might help raise some money.”

According to Wood, he really enjoys history and radio comedies so this play reflected his interests and passions.

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