A Momentous Year for the Jesuit Theater Program


Courtesy of 2021-22 Insignis

The drama department puts on ALL TOGETHER NOW! in 2021 to celebrate local theaters returning from quarantine.

Jesuit’s Drama Department is striving to bring Jesuit students “closer to home” this year through topical performances and celebrations of milestones. Jesuit is celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Alex L. Parks Performing Arts Center opening. The PAC includes the Moyer Theater, Wiegand Black Box, choir room, band room, and art rooms. The Theatre Program is also embracing a theme of “Close to Home” for all of their productions, directed by Elaine Kloser and Jeff Hall.

Before the Performing Arts Center was built, many of the performing arts programs took place in a small, multipurpose building called the Creative Arts Center (CAC). It was evident that this building was not equipped for big productions and the expanding fine arts department. Therefore, the CAC was torn down during the winter break of 1996.

“So the school realized that we needed to have updated facilities and equipment to catch up with the rest of the world in drama,” said Kloser. “Everybody at Jesuit really cares about the arts. It’s a 450 year old Jesuit tradition focusing on how art feeds the soul of the whole person.”

The theme “Close to Home” was chosen by Kloser and Hall to not only honor the fact that the Jesuit theater program, enhanced by the PAC’s facilities, is a second home to many students, but also to welcome back many alumni of the theater program who will be returning for the 25th PAC anniversary celebration.

“We did a big celebration on the 10th anniversary, where we invited alums to see if 20 or 30 of them could come and celebrate with us,” said Hall. “Almost 100 of them came.”

The drama department also put on a performance to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the theater, and likewise to the 10th anniversary celebration, it was “hugely successful.” Kloser and Hall are planning a similar event for the 25th anniversary, involving many alumni, a performance, and an after party.

In conjunction with welcoming alumni back to the PAC, which has become a second home to Jesuit’s thespians, the drama productions this year were chosen specifically with the theme in mind.

‘THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG,’ a comedy, is exactly what it sounds like. The plot is about a play production literally going wrong in every way possible. The idea of things going wrong on stage is a subject that hits close to home for those who spend most of their time trying to make sure things go right.

‘THE WIZARD OF OZ’ needs no explanation for how it embodies the theme of “Close to Home” with its iconic line: “There is no place like home.”

‘26 PEBBLES,’ a story about the effects of a school shooting on family, friends, and community, hits close to home for us all in 2022.

“We know it’s going to be close to home for all of us in the past year with the Uvalde shooting,” said Kloser, referencing the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas last May that killed 19 children. “But what’s important about 26 Pebbles is you get to see the context of the people who were involved in that situation, and you find out about their community. Knowing that there were actual people with actual stories helps us relate to that situation by hearing their stories play out.”

This year’s theme for the play’s productions, along with the anniversary celebrations, demonstrate an important idea and message of community and coming home.

“The thing that makes theater different is everybody gets to be together in the same room, in the same space, breathing the same air. For the last couple of years, there have been obstacles to that. But now we get to experience really being together again,” said Hall.