Senior drama students bond through Motherlode production

Chloe Wintersteen

For the past three months, Ensemble Production Company (EPiC) seniors have been rehearsing for Motherlode, the company’s final Advanced Drama show in its spring season lineup. The annual student-written performance piece is named after a theater festival of the same name, typically hosted by Amador High School, in which the Motherlode students will compete.

This year’s Motherlode is directed by drama teacher Britt Block. According to senior Ann Caindec, Block helps the students create their own content, collaborate and ultimately form a single, cohesive play.

“We have an idea of where the show is going, but we’re mainly following Britt [Block] because she’s the director and she has a strong vision for where we’re going,” Caindec said. “We’re generating so much content in rehearsal, and Britt is the guiding force who strings it together. Britt is shaping it.”

Because students are continuously contributing new content, the Motherlode play is constantly evolving.

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“If you have a script, you follow the script. It’s very straightforward. But Motherlode is a really creative process. [The play] changes everyday, which is really unique. We’re heading into our last week of rehearsal, and we’re still generating new content,” Caindec said.

According to Advanced Drama senior Paige Colvin, a few Block’s ideas for the play were guided by her dreams.

“In the beginning, everything we did was a prophetic dream,” Colvin said. “One time, Britt walked up to us and said ‘I had a dream you guys did this thing, so now we’re going to do it.’”

Britt’s dreams, however, are not the primary source of Motherlodes material this year. According to Advanced Drama senior Amanda Mosconi, Britt advised that students seek worldly experiences and actively observe the world around them.

“Earlier on in the project, we had to go out and experience certain places. I don’t want to give it away, but we had to go out and experience the world for ourselves, and we came back and derived what we had learned to make our scenes,” Mosconi said.

This year’s Motherlode is unique because the scenes the students have written are mostly fictionalized and contain commentary on what students have observed about the people surrounding them rather than on their own personal experiences, according to Colvin.

“In a lot of the previous Motherlodes, scenes or monologues have been based on the person themselves, and with this one we’re playing a lot of characters,” Colvin said. “We’re going outside of ourselves, which is pretty cool. It’s not as introspective.”

Another unique aspect of this year’s Motherlode is its lighter thematic focus compared to previous years.

“So far, ours hasn’t been so dark and emotional, but there have been ones in the past that are a lot more strongly focused on the darker more emotional aspects of growing up,” Colvin said. “With the theme that we have, it’s not entirely about our emotions or angst.”

The rehearsal process, however, has proven to be quite emotional.

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“In these scenes, you have to be vulnerable. You have to be unafraid to bare your soul to the class and to say ‘I have these emotions and I’m going to put them in this scene,’ and then perform it in front of people, and get their reactions to what you’re feeling and what you felt,” Caindec said. “It’s a really powerful experience to share pieces of yourself to people who you might not really know very well.”

The fact that the graduating Advanced Drama class has been so emotionally intimate has brought them closer together, according to Colvin. For her, Motherlode is extremely special, as it serves as a seniors’ farewell to Redwood Drama.

“I think any process really bonds everyone, but because this is a student-written collaborative piece, and a lot of us are in it, I think Motherlode is a really big bonding experience for the seniors,” Colvin said. “We’ve all seen what we can do. We’ve all seen each other fail. We’ve all seen each other succeed, so we all know how to succeed together.”

One acrobatics rehearsal had a significant impact on cast bonding, according to Mosconi.

“We did a workshop with a guest artist where we flew into each other’s arms and did assisted cartwheels. It had nothing to do with anything that we were doing, but some of that stuff actually ended up in our play,” Mosconi said. “We were so touchy feely that day that I think we grew as a cast.”

According to Mosconi, the graduating class is successfully fulfilling a renowned Motherlode tradition: keeping the rehearsal process secret.

“Ever since I was a freshman, I remember [Motherlode] was a huge secret that no one could talk about,” Mosconi said. “We’re working on something sacred to us and we want it to be just for us until we’re allowed to show it to you guys.”

The Motherlode cast will perform in the Little Theater April 6-7 and 19-21 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at the box office prior to the performance.