The magic of the nightingale

The magic of the nightingale

Ingrid Chang

 Part of the Advanced drama honors students present "The Nightingale" by Hans Christian Andersen

It’s not very often that children’s stories come to life but for two days, May 7 and 13 , part of the drama department’s drama honors students will be showing "The Nightingale", by Hans Christian Andersen, a story about a Chinese emperor who desires the greatest treasure of the empire: a nightingale. At first he cherishes it but later, he’s tricked into believing that the artificial nightingale is better and learns his lesson in the end. This time the production is directed by a student, senior Sheiva Khalily. Khalily has worked a lot with set designs in past productions, including the recent "Odyssey". 

"I told them in the beginning [that] I’m not allowed to hold a pencil because if so I would [have designed the set] for them, so I let them go and they’ve produced what I think is beautiful," Khalily said. 

As the director, Khalily also gets to see everyone working hard, which would have been hard for her had she been focused on one job. Khalily approves everything and tells the cast and crew what she imagines the play to look like. Originally finding a script with five people, she took another script of the same play which was meant for 27 people and edited it for nine actors. 
Although there are no leads out of the nine actors, senior Michelle Chow will be playing multiple parts (Death, Shih Wen who is the narrator and others). Sophomore Max Sorg will be playing the emperor of China and sophomore Jordan Thompson will be playing the nightingale and the artificial nightingale that appears later. 

Usually people would imagine that the nightingale sings but in this adapted show, a recorded audio track will play as the nightingale traditionally dances to it. 

"My favorite idea of the show is the nightingale itself. I really think that this wonderful song [in the story] can touch so many people in so many different ways and that’s what really stood out to me," Sorg said. "We’ve made a kid show out of this but through all of the emotions displayed in the show and throughout all the aspects of it, we’ve created this all-audience sort of thing where everyone can enjoy it". 

Other than the acting, the sets and all the meticulous designs had to be made. Junior Lena Jenny, though usually an actress, was the costume designer for the show. What makes this show unique is that the costumes, hats and masks all had to look traditional. 

"[Khalily] said, ‘I want reds and golds and I want it to be as traditional as you can make it’, which is really hard becuase all we have is the clothes in here and our capabilites," Jenny said. "I had to [study] what makes something looks Asian, like simple tricks like an obi, [a strip] around a waist, or long sleeves and floral patterns. We had to do tricks like that to make it work."

After taking the director’s vision, Jenny was left with her resources to cut, sew and make what the actors were going to wear. With details like a dragon motif painted on the emperor’s costume and others on the hats and masks, the whole show may even transport the audience back into something very similar to that of Asia. 

"It’s too cool: we’ve got a lot of different creative minds all in this one show and it really shows," Sorg said. 

Other than "The Nightingale", "Just So Stories" another student directed show will also be playing on May 8 and 14. Tickets for both shows can be bought online at or from a cast and crew member for $6 dollars in advance and $8 at the door.