Student-written, directed play ‘Air Raid Lemonade’ comes to Battle Mountain High School Feb. 1-3 | VailDaily.com

Student-written, directed play ‘Air Raid Lemonade’ comes to Battle Mountain High School Feb. 1-3

Melanie Grangaard
Special to the Daily

This week, for the first time, Battle Mountain High School presents a student-written and student-directed play. The play, "Air Raid Lemonade," written by high school senior Katie Bellerose, is a one-act play directed by fellow senior Berit Kirchner, both of Eagle-Vail. Performances take place Thursday through Saturday, Feb. 1-3, at 7 p.m. at the Battle Mountain High School auditorium.

"I'm really excited to see it. There's something about seeing what began on a page turn into what people are saying and doing onstage that's pretty cool," Bellerose said.

Kirchner, who is the first student to direct a student-written play at Battle Mountain High School, agrees. With the help of friends Maddie McDougall and Sophia Minar, oversight from the Vilar Center's Kaylee Brennand, who assists with the high school's theater program, and support from Alex Trosper, of the choir program at the high school, Kirchner cast the 10 roles and led practices throughout the month of January. She has participated in six plays and three musicals throughout her high school career, and is thrilled to be directing this winter's play. Perhaps just as exciting to her is that the play was written by her cousin.

Bellerose said she was inspired to write a play because of her love of film. "I've always liked movies and I can't make a movie yet, so I decided to write a play for our school … I showed Berit first, and she was the first person to read it. She helped a lot with changing it, and she's directing it now."

Kirchner loved the script and showed it to her director in the theater program at the school, Brennand, who gave positive feedback as well. The play was selected for this winter's performance and the work has been a labor of love ever since.

Kirchner described her experience of the directing process as "learning by doing." She, together with Bellerose, McDougall and Minar, began with the basics: holding auditions, disbursing scripts for memorization over the winter holidays and starting practices immediately after break, which ran for several hours after school most days.

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'They look phenomenal'

The cast is made up of 10 students, with actors from each high school grade.

"I was excited to work with the different ages, because we all bring something different with different levels of experience," Kirchner said.

A substantial part of rehearsal was devoted to actors getting to know their characters, a tactic Kirchner picked up from taking part in Battle Mountain's fall play. "We'd sit with the characters to learn about them and see the world through their eyes. We spent a lot of time working on the characters' back stories," she said.

By leading actors through this process, and exploring together how the actors are able to integrate the facial, vocal and physical actions of their characters, Kirchner said she learned a lot about how others learn. She is grateful to have the support and insight lent by Brennand, as well as help from Trosper. The sets were done by David Mayer, for which Kirchner is very grateful.

"They look phenomenal," Kirchner said.

The play is based on a true story centering on a lemonade factory in England, which was the site of an air raid during World War II. With scenes comprised of several actors onstage at a time, the play feels like a series of short stories, brought together by overarching themes of love, conflict, fear and family. There is no intermission and the play is about an hour in length.

Cousins Kirchner and Bellerose are excited to be working together to put "Air Raid Lemonade" onstage. The two, who have been close "since birth," are seniors this year, anticipating college for Kirchner and perhaps film school for Bellerose. Together with the cast of the play and the support from Battle Mountain High School, the community is encouraged to attend.

Air Raid Lemonade quick facts:

Directed by: Berit Kirchner.

Written by: Katie Bellerose.

Performances: Thursday, Feb. 1, through Saturday, Feb. 3, at 7 p.m.

Location: Battle Mountain High School auditorium, 0151 Miller Ranch Road, in Edwards.

Cast: Comprised of 10 students.

Audience: All invited.

Tickets: Purchase at the door. Proceeds to benefit the BMHS theater department. Tickets for students and teachers are $7; $10 for community members.