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The best stories being published on the SNO Sites network

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The best stories being published on the SNO Sites network

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WDHA Radio Takes Center Stage

Freshman Eli Shipley steps into a new role.

Most freshmen in high school shy away from a hobby like show business. But Eli Shipley isn’t most freshman.

Coming off of a high from writing “Starlighter News” for the Starlighters II Theater in Anamosa last summer, Shipley has undertaken an even bigger project—and it’s set to premiere this Friday.

“It all started one night when I was talking to the play director, Tina Ostrander,” Shipley said. “Tina was saying that she wished there was some way we could have more acting pieces. And then someone told her that I write scripts. So Tina said, ‘Great! You’re writing a one-act.’”

Shipley certainly dove in headfirst, writing the first draft of his one-act, titled “WDHA Radio,” in under two weeks. The script centers around a radio station with some eccentric characters, to say the least.

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“The play takes place in the 1930s,” cast member Maya Pennington said. “It’s about a radio show. The boss is crazy, and he treats people unfairly. They’re always fighting. It’s really about the characters, which is interesting.”

The show was a bit of a learning curve for everyone, in multiple ways. The cast was working with a brand new script, so they didn’t have previous versions of the show on YouTube to turn to. In addition, they had to get used to the new structure of direction under Shipley.

“It’s been hard to connect with our characters,” Pennington said. “Some of the characters are really odd. Communication has also been difficult for us because there have been so many random cancellations.”

Sitting in the director’s chair was a fun experience, Shipley said, but it was also stressful, especially because it was his first real encounter with the role. He was the person in charge of finding solutions to the cast’s problems.

“Eli has done an excellent job directing, as this is his directorial debut, and he has had minimal support from me,” Ostrander said. “This was on purpose though, so he could learn and grow as a playwright and director!”

Shipley was appreciative of the freedom that Ostrander gave him, but he still struggled.

“In the middle of directing, I was like, this is not working,” Shipley said. “I had Tina come in, and she saved me. She changed blocking, set design, and even a few lines. I think the play is much better now because of her help.”

The cast is excited to bring all their hard work to the stage on Friday, April 5, for their opening night performance. The one-act will begin at 7 p.m., with the main stage play to follow.

“It’s been fun to put on this show with my friends,” Pennington said. “I’m lucky to perform with them!”

Everyone has learned a lot from the experience, especially Shipley. He’s gained a lot of wisdom to offer other students.

“Believe in yourself,” Shipley said. “I kind of went on the fast track doing everything, and it taught me that I need to go slow. In the end, what’s on the stage is what I’ve written. I put a lot of effort into it, and I’m proud of the work that we’ve done to get where we are.”

The cast has one thing to say to the public—come see the show!

“Buy tickets!” Shipley said. “You won’t regret it. I promise.”

This story was originally published on Inklings on April 5, 2024.