by Chloe Ortiz, staff writer

PPSC’s theatre department is currently showing Aarnie’s Mixtape Vol. 1, a compilation of ten one-act plays. Each play has been created and performed by both current and former PPSC students and staff.

With Spring performances underway; I was able to speak with both the Theatre Department Chair, Sarah Shaver, as well as Michaela Wojcik– a playwright
and cast member participating in Aarnie’s Mixtape Vol. 1. – regarding the process of production.

Wojcik has been involved with theatre groups since she was in 6th grade– mostly focusing on musical theatre until after the Covid-19 pandemic– stating, “since coming back I’ve been involved with pretty much every theater element in the department here.” With this experience under her belt playwriting was the next step in her theatre development.

Wojcik gave insight into her creative process sharing “My play began with a prompt from class titled ‘Alternative Perspective,’ which was basically an assignment of taking a background character and making them the lead, giving a voice to a silent character or flipping the classic script on its head. While brainstorming for this prompt, I was looking around my kitchen and found a decorative wine bottle with some Grecian paintings on it. From there, I got a goofy idea of having Dionysus, the god of wine, attempting to quit drinking.

It was a lot of trial and error, discussions and feedback sessions to get to a place where I was ok turning in what I had written.” Having your play selected however, does not mean the work ends there. During the process of production, many issues can arise– including last-minute recasting– Wojcik informed “as of this Monday, I had to pick up the part of Dionysus, simply because I already knew the lines and what I expected to see from the character. Wild ride, but the show must go on,” she said.

Theatre director Sarah Shaver commented on the challenges of producing plays through the college stating there is “never enough money. We put on at least 2 shows a year on a minimum budget. Royalties for new plays are at least $100/performance, inflation has driven the cost of wood, paint, and other materials through the roof,” she said.

To combat this financial difficulty requires a creative mind and dedication. “We end up repurposing a lot of materials, literal dumpster diving, and borrowing a lot of stock from other theatre companies or local HS in town (Theatreworks, Springs Ensemble Theatre, Cheyenne Mountain HS, Coronado HS have been so generous with us, so we try to help them out too),” Shaver said.

Although the challenges may seem exponential, Aarnie’s Mixtape Vol. 1 opens on time on April 13th, 2023. It seems as if the reward of education and hard work from both staff and students outweighs the obstacles they have faced. Shaver states “In this two year degree, we go from just beginners to empowered theatre artists who perform, direct, stage manage, design scenery, lights, props, sound, and costumes, and write their own plays! Seeing my students succeed here in the
department and then out in the world is my joy.”