The silence was startling.
A Cove High School student participating in a play rehearsal late Monday afternoon was speaking smoothly and in character during an extensive dialogue when he abruptly fell silent.
The sudden quiet went on for about 10 seconds and it was not apparent if the script called for the pause or if the student had forgotten his lines.
Then CHS drama and English teacher Teresa Farrell, sitting offstage, gave the student wise advice.
“It is okay to jump ahead a couple of lines,” she said.
The young actor, staying in character and with professionalism beyond his years, did just that, skipping to the next lines seamlessly and with such conviction that it would not have been apparent to an audience that anything had been left out.
The moment illustrated why Farrell is passionate about directing. She enjoys preparing students to deal with unexpected rough spots without the audience noticing. The opportunity to do this is what inspires her as she leads the resurgence of Cove High School’s drama program.
CHS’s drama program was revived about a year ago and is now preparing its second production, “Psych,” a comedy written by Lisa Rowe, which will be performed at 7 p.m. Nov. 15 and 16 and at 2 p.m. Nov. 17. It is about a successful psychiatrist who is beloved by many of his patients until he is framed for a murder.
Farrell selected “Psych” because she believes students and parents alike will enjoy it.
“Parents want a play to be tasteful and students want it to be fun,” Farrell said.
She said finding a play that will make both happy is a “very difficult” process.
Putting on plays is still a new experience for CHS students, since their school, until last spring, had not produced one since at least 2011. Drama classes had been taught until a few years ago, said Farrell, who is in her second year as a teacher at CHS. She came to Cove from Eastern Oregon University where she was an education professor for six years. Prior to that she directed student plays while teaching high school for 10 years in Klamath Falls.
Farrell, who has a degree in theater from Montana State University, said teaching drama is rewarding because it helps students who are not sure of themselves to blossom.
“It takes students who feel awkward and gives them self-confidence. (Theater) is a great safe vehicle. It provides them with a safe place to be someone other than themselves,” Farrell said.
Cove High School sophomore Hayden Taggart, a member of the cast of “Psych,” said what he likes about theater is that it provides people an opportunity to escape from themselves.
“Most people have two or three things they do not like about themselves, and this gives them a chance to become someone else,” he said.
Taggart said he enjoys taking on the mindset of another character and jokes that sometimes he and his castmates do not totally let go of them.
“We will call each other by our character names,” he said.
Taggart is part of a seven-person cast along with CHS students Isaac Lee, Terran Matthews, Elise Farrell, Amein Gallegos, Hannah Alldredge and Cove eighth-grade teacher Ross Hubbard, who has a cameo role as a pizza delivery man.
This cast will perform “Psych” at the Coe Kerr Community Center on the Ascension School campus on Church Street in Cove. This is the same site where CHS students rehearse and where last spring they put on a production of “The Murder Room,” a crime thriller spoof. Farrell likes the site for production and rehearsals in part because her production team is able to leave materials there at the end of a performance or practice.
“(The Ascension School staff members) have been amazing. They are so wonderful,” said Farrell, who has a doctorate in education.
She said the performing site at the Coe Kerr Community Center is better now than it was last spring because a sound system has been added and other improvements made.
Tickets for the performances are available at Cove High School and will also be sold at the door. They are $5 for adults and $3 for students and seniors.
This spring, Farrell plans to put on a musical in which students will perform with Cove alumni and area residents.
“We want it to be a community event,” Farrell said.