On stage, Billy Bones, portrayed by senior Nathan Elliot, opened PCC’s Treasure Island with the tale of Captain Flint’s treasure. As he spoke, a gnarly pirate crew and the brooding captain himself slinked down the center aisle of the Dale Horton Auditorium, singing a haunting pirate’s shanty:
“Fifteen men on a dead man’s chest,
Davy Jones will come for the rest.
Dig for treasure, dig your grave.”
The unsuspecting audience soon witnessed the treasure-burying crew burst into a flurry of action and swordplay as Captain Flint swiftly did away with his unwanted witnesses.
Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, was led by two members of the performing arts faculty: Rachel Harnetty who directed and Daniel Webb who adapted the book for the stage. The performance gave an action-packed end to a great year of productions; but it takes a great deal of time, hard work, and patience to get such a production to run smoothly.
“From the very beginning at auditions, the other cast members have been extremely supportive and encouraging, even though this is the first PCC production I’ve been involved in,” said Mike Landers who played carpenter Alan Grey in the production and is maintenance staff at PCC. “Many of the cast members have become good friends as we’ve worked in other areas of the ministry together as well.”
Multiple scenes showcased sword fighting as tensions rose between the pirates, the squire’s men, and Captain Smollett, played by Daniel Webb. “Every second of a sword fight requires roughly an hour of rehearsal time,” said Simon Haughey (Sr., ME) who played George Merry in the production. “I’m not a math major, but even I know that means a lot of rehearsal time. And the more people you have fighting, the more complicated the choreography gets. Most of the cast walked into this play with no formal training in stage combat, but they’ve all worked hard to get where they are.”
Regardless of their level of experience, many of the cast worked hard for the production from practices to full-fledged performances. “We have both new and more experienced actors, but everyone is working well together!” said PCC staff Caleb Mann who played Captain Flint and Ben Gunn in the play. “Each new play the Lord allows me to participate in, I am able to both sharpen acting skills and invest time in my fellow cast members.”
“Acting with many other students has been helpful in that we have all pushed each other to be better people and actors,” said Nathan Carlson (So., AZ). “Dying on stage has also been quite a new experience.”
“There’s always a magical moment when everyone gets into costume for the first time and their character takes over,” said Kollin Dembeck who played Dr. David Livesey in the production. “It stops being Daniel Greathouse (So., MD) and Josh Hutt (speech faculty) sitting in the middle of an empty classroom reciting lines; we see Jim Hawkins and Long John Silver in the galley of the Hispaniola sharing life stories. That’s when the rehearsals start to gain that excitement and momentum.”
From constructing the Admiral Benbow Inn, a three-sided turntable for the Skeleton Island sets, and the two-story deck for the Hispaniola, stage crew had their hands full this semester building, painting, and revising the set pieces as performances got closer. “As far as construction, we’ve been working on Treasure Island since February, but research and ideas began in the summer of 2018,” said Eric Weber (Sr., OH). “Typically we work on the set pieces during the day; this semester we were pressed for time and did have to pull some late nights. This mainly involved painting, set dressings, trimmings, etc. [It was] a lot of work, but also a great deal of fun.”
“Each piece had its own unique challenges, but the Hispaniola was probably the most difficult,” said Scene Shop manager Ben Davis. “Coming up with a way to allow the actors to climb on actual ship rigging in a self-contained unit and keep it safe was something we haven’t done before and was particularly challenging. We also did a lot of creative building without any blueprints. All of the island scenes were full of real wood logs, palm branches, and bamboo. We wanted to give the island a very realistic feel that required a different style of construction. These were some of the largest and heaviest pieces we have built—with the Hispaniola coming in at approximately 4,000 pounds.”
The time spent on the set and with the cast allowed Treasure Island to leave a lasting impression on the student body. “My favorite part was the opening scene—beautiful exhibition,” said Lucas Ploszaj (So., CT). “The production was done quite well, and stayed very close to the original book ending. For a two-hour play, it was a wonderful adaption.”
“Although I am an avid reader, I have never read Treasure Island before and was curious about the story. This semester’s Fine Arts production of Treasure Island did not disappoint that curiosity,” said Taylor DiPaola (So., VA). “The sword-fighting scenes grabbed my attention, and having the characters come through the auditorium made me feel as if I were in the midst of the action. I was so captivated by the story that I forgot that I was sitting in an auditorium full of people.”
While Fine Arts dramas introduce culture to students outside of what’s familiar to many, the cast didn’t forget how their time in Treasure Island could affect their audiences. “I’ve told my children that God doesn’t waste experiences,” Mike Landers said. “It has been exciting to see how God has brought individuals from diverse backgrounds and experiences to work together on something this powerful.”