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The City Journals

Jordan High thespians find success in pandemic year

May 03, 2021 01:05PM ● By Julie Slama

Jordan High’s cast and crew in their one-act, “These Shining Lives,” which placed second at the 6A Region 3 competition. (Photo courtesy of Jordan High theatre deparment)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

The Beetdiggers have managed to do something few others have done this year, performed live theatre without a major delay, postponement or shutdown of their shows.

“We’re having a strangely good year and a successful year,” Jordan High director Suzie DuVal said shortly after their theatre competition team nabbed both the regional second place Sweepstakes title and had several students qualify for state. 

Their competition one-act play, “These Shining Lives,” is based on the true story of women who in the late 1920s and early 1930s, were diagnosed with radium poisoning after working for an Illinois watch factory and how they fought the dangers they faced in the workplace.

“They learned about these women who talked about the lack of health protection, got fired from their jobs when they couldn’t work because of the cancer, and how it turned into a story of workplace rights and made changes that impact us today,” DuVal said.

Their roles earned junior Kayla Siebeneck outstanding dramatic actress with Megan DuVal named outstanding supporting actress. Sarah Jarrard received outstanding costume design award.

Other award winners include Alec Kocherhans and Montana Meier, first place in pantomime; George Hill and Hannah Larsen, second place in pantomime, Lizzy Davies and Sarah Jarrard; second place in contemporary scene; and Peyton Hagen, third place in humorous monologue.

This is the second year in a row Jordan has placed second in region; last year, because the pandemic canceled the state competition, they didn’t have a chance to perform. This year, state is slated for late April.

“In the past, it was hard to get a trophy if we didn’t have enough points or a full team. This year, the students sat and figured it out and plugged in all the holes, learning scenes in two days so we had 35 students compete in 24 entries and qualify with our team. It was huge and showed their desire,” she said, adding that since she’s been directing at Jordan, students have received state medals, but not a trophy.

“We’ve decided to perform in masks and at region, we were the only team who made that choice to wear them in our one-act,” she said. “It’s a challenge to work through; it was a great year to work on our diction. We learned to be more expressive with our eyes and body and not hold back.”

That also has translated when they’ve taken the stage at Jordan High. Their final performances will be an evening of one-acts at 7 p.m., May 6-8. Students have written nine plays and each play will be performed on two of the three nights. The night is free, but tickets are required; they are available at beetdiggertheatre.weebly.com/

The one-acts include “Hemiptera, or True Bugs” by Nathan Holley, Megan DuVal and Julie Olson; “Closed Minded” by Cassi Rasmussen, Kimi Rasmussen, Iliana Mendoza, Will Garner and Lee Pemberton; “Once in a Lifetime” by Laurel Ames; “The Four Apprentices” by Sarah Jarrard and Alec Kocherhans, who was the second-place winner at the Utah Theatre Association Playwrighting Festival; “Unmasked” by Lizzy Davies; “Train Wreck” by Ryan Humeniuk; “Finally Dreaming” by Eli Tincher; “Imaginary” by Cassi Rasmussen and “Witnesses” by Tessa Ellis and Ryan Humeniuk.

Earlier this school year, Jordan theatre students performed William Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” in October and Stephen Sondheim’s “Into the Woods” in February.