Kaylie Farfan and Michael Plaugher in "Mockingbird"

Woodbridge High School's second annual Theatre Winter Festival "Through the Eyes" was produced, designed, directed, and performed entirely by students in Theatre II, III, and IV classes. The festival featured two one-acts unified by the emotions of loss and grief, "Mockingbird" by Julie Jensen and "110 Stories" by Sarah Tuft. Students Lillie Cooper, Miriam Elhadidi, Skyler Hill, and Kevin Turcios approached the shows as directors and performers with an understanding that when people connect through tragedy, it is a shared human experience.

The first show, "Mockingbird," is about Caitlin, a fifth-grade student who is autistic and has recently lost her older brother to a mass shooting. She struggles to process and express her emotions regarding her brother while finding her new "normal" at school and home, and even learns how to make friends.

Student director Miriam Elhadidi and actress Kaylie Farfan both pulled from personal experiences with their own family members while working on "Mockingbird." Farfan explained that her family member provided her with ample knowledge to realistically portray the role of Caitlin. Elhadidi also has an autistic family member, and she was able to bring him with her to some rehearsals so that the other students involved had an opportunity to interact with and learn from him.

The tragic events of September 11, 2001, provide the setting of the second show "110 Stories." From the impact of the first plane to the aftermath at Ground Zero, these actual stories tell the first-hand accounts of those who experienced the unthinkable nearly 19 years ago. WSHS students performing in "110 Stories" From L-R: Skyler Hill, Michael Plaugher, Kevin Turcios, Donovyn James

Kevin Turcios, one of the three directors for "110 Stories," talked about how he prepared to direct and perform in the show. "Growing up in a post 9/11 world, I have only seen the photos and videos from that day. They provided a visual that helped me to understand the tragic events that occurred. The character I am performing was a photojournalist, and I spent a lot of time reviewing his work to understand what he was experiencing as the events unfolded that day," said Turcios.

Both one-act plays showcase from several different points of view with empathy and grace, the variety of ways people handle the experiences of tragedy and loss. Students producing plays with maturity and compassion is Positively PWCS!

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