How many times in a day do people ask us how we’re doing and our simple response is “fine,” but deep down, we’re really not?
In Pittsburg High School’s next social issue play, “Fine,” audiences are introduced to Jack, a popular young man who repeatedly says he’s fine, but crumbles when it all becomes too much. His friends are left in a quandary. Were there signs that he needed help? Was there more they could have done? Through a series of “restarts,” Jack’s friends give themselves permission to learn and do better, but without any blame or shame.
The premier performance of the show, written by award-winning playwright Page Petrucka, will be produced at 7 p.m. April 21 by PHS Rep Theatre under the direction of Jason Huffman. Seating will be limited, and there will be a free streaming option, as well, at https://vimeo.com/event/908311.
Social issue plays were started in 2008 by PHS Theatre Director Greg Shaw, who died last December, as a way of bringing to life issues with which teens and adults often struggle. In these original productions, a prince doesn’t ride off into the sunset with a princess, but rather, the storyline focuses on a topic that can be uncomfortable.
Each spring — except for last spring, which was interrupted by the pandemic — students work closely with a playwright to create an original script and then perform the show for area schools and the public. Topics have included bullying, dating violence, prescription drug use, suicide, and more. Talkback sessions have been included to allow audience members to engage.
The plays have supported the goal of PHS to improve the school climate by helping students make safer and healthier choices and fostering engagement. Shaw was recognized for the plays with the KNEA Human and Civil Rights Award and Character Education Partnership's National Award for Promising Practices.
“We’re starting a conversation," Shaw once said of the project. "That’s the whole objective of the entire thing. We just want to elicit a response.”
In “Fine,” the cast includes:
Jack - Xavier Huffman
Avery - Mallory Womeldorff
Heather - Ella Rhuems
Guy - Ethan McConnell
Sarah - Annabella Beachner
Hope - Aunyx Estes
Ryan - Declan Ortiz
Chance - Bryson Brown
Patrick - Dallas Cox
Travis - Keller Erwin
Scott - Ben Shawn
Dakota - Tate Campbell
Ms. H - Emma Noonoo
Ms. S - Dana Shoemaker
Ms. Reagan/Mom - Regan Carlson
Petrucka is the acting and playwriting professor with Independence Community College. She received her PhD in Fine Arts from Texas Tech University and her Master's from Utah State University. She is an actress of the stage and screen, and has performed nationally and internationally. Much of her film work can be seen during the Christmas season on both the Lifetime and Hallmark channels.
Petrucka also is an accomplished playwright, with two of her plays currently being published by Next Stage Press. She recently received a Certificate of Merit in playwriting from the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. Her 10-minute plays have won multiple awards and her play Return to Roswell won the Texas Educational Theatre Association playwriting award in 2013.