A cherished, longstanding Ashley Hall tradition, The Christmas Play assumed a digital format for its 2020 production in response to pandemic safety concerns. Against the backdrop of new technology, creative staging, and the need for the cast to socially distance, one thing remained clear: the love for this shared generational experience runs deep.
“This year we reimagined The Christmas Play in order to adhere to public health and safety protocols, and the spirit of this Ashley Hall tradition came to life in an entirely new way. Filmed outdoors on campus, the play allowed us to take full advantage of our cherished Senior Lawn as well as the Bear Cave, which served as the perfect backdrop for the Holy Tableaux.” —Head of School Jill Muti
Ask any alumna to name her favorite Ashley Hall memories, and The Christmas Play makes the list more often than not. Now in its 97th year, the annual performance is nearly as old as the School itself and draws together generations of graduates who relish memories of assuming roles of angels, shepherds, and jesters, reciting time-worn lines, and singing a repertoire that embodies the holiday season.
“The fact that you can reconnect so well with your Ashley Hall experience through watching the play makes it so special,” said Assistant Head of School and Upper School Director Anne Weston ’73, who treasures many fond memories of watching and performing in the play. “This year we worked hard to preserve the tradition of The Christmas Play in the face of challenging conditions.”
Historically, the logistics of The Christmas Play have adapted through the years to allow for location changes and staging demands, and the digital version represents the latest of these transformations. While the medium of delivery may change, it is reassuring to know the essence of this beloved tradition remains very much the same.
Another special Ashley Hall tradition is the sending of alumnae “telegrams.” Each year, alumnae cast members of The Christmas Play share warm wishes with members of the current cast. Filled with fun memories and loving support, these “telegrams” offer a glimpse into the special bond our alumnae have to their School and each other. Happy reading!
The ability of dance to stir emotions and build connections was evident during this year’s first performance of The Caterpillar Thriller, an original story-in-dance featuring dancers from second through sixth grades. Written and staged by Lower School faculty member Stephanie Christensen, The Caterpillar Thriller presents a powerful message that “being odd’s not bad” and if we remain true to who we are, we will ultimately find others who are just like us.
Students, parents, faculty, and staff were enchanted by the heart-warming story of a little caterpillar’s journey to grow into her true self and discover her own place within the world. Gorgeous costumes and lively music created the perfect atmosphere for a captivating display of dance. An Ashley Hall favorite, The Caterpillar Thriller has been performed on campus on two previous occasions to capacity audiences. You do not want to miss this year’s memorable performance! Future showtimes are May 17 at 7:00pm and May 19 at 3:00pm in Davies Auditorium. Each performance is free, with RSVPs requested. Online RSVPs are now closed, so please arrive early to the performances to ensure your spot. To learn more about the Lower School, click on the button below.
If you’ve visited campus recently, you may have seen the newest Earth Loom installation, a hanging habitat made from recycled two-liter bottles. In a unique collaboration first grade students shared their knowledge of plants while second grade students provided insight on the world of insects in order to create a plant and insect habitat in each re-purposed plastic bottle. (Many of the habitats have even survived the recent winter weather!) A special thanks to Lower School art instructor Tina Hirsig, and Lower School science faculty members, Beth McCarty and Elizabeth Flowers. This is a wonderful example of collaboration across classes and disciplines. PQV to all!
Performed by the Upper School theater ensemble, Honk! is a musical adaptation of the Hans Christian Andersen story The Ugly Duckling. This is the story of Ugly, whose odd, gawky looks instantly incite prejudice from his family and other barnyard creatures. Along a rollicking and harrowing journey he not only discovers his true beauty and glorious destiny, but also finds love and acceptance in all its forms. This award-winning musical incorporates a beautiful message of tolerance. Appropriate for students of all ages.
The Ashley Hall Performing Arts Department presents
The Other Side of Love: An Evening of One Acts
The program includes:
The world premiere of an original play by Mady Thompson ’18!
Ludlow Fair by Lanford Wilson Lanford Wilson’s one act play, Ludlow Fair, gives us a glimpse of Rachel and Agnes. The two roommates attempt to co-exist in their cramped New York City, yet Rachel and Agnes could not be more different. Rachel is beautiful, dramatic and a serial dater; Agnes is practical, sarcastic and completely clueless when it comes to men. Both are extremely lonely and hopeless romantics, and over the course of one poignant evening, we learn that Rachel and Agnes may need each other more than they realize.
Nine, an abridged version of the Tony Award-winning musical
Nine is based on the Italian film maker Federico Fellini’s semi-autobiographical film 8 1/2. The show concerns the film director Guido Contini who is facing a midlife crisis as he struggles to put together his latest film.
Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein, giants of American musical theater, created legendary Broadway musicals in the 1940s and 50s and initiated what is widely considered the “golden age” of musical theater. The composers were geniuses at weaving challenging thematic issues into romantic love stories shared through dance and song. Consider The King and I, Oklahoma, South Pacific, and Carousel, all musical theater chestnuts that carry a powerful social commentary punch.
With their original production of Café Carousel, the Ashley Hall Theater Department, under the direction of Director Maida Libkin, created an evening to celebrate and examine the work Rodgers and Hammerstein through the lens of social justice. The team crafted the show’s poignant narrative through meticulous research of the musicals and by working closely with Upper School humanities faculty who teach classes such as HumanRights and International Law, American Studies, and Race Class, and Gender for historical and social context. Café Carousel proved enormously successful giving audiences of all ages much to think about.
Taking their efforts one step further, the Café Carousel cast and crew generously donated a portion of ticket sales, $2,000, to the local Charleston non-profit,My Sister’s House, which provides services and resources to empower victims of domestic violence and their children to live free of abuse. Brava to all!