El Estoque

An evening of entertainment

The+lights+shine+brightly+from+behind+the+shimmery+blue+stage+curtain+as+the+show+ends.+This+year%2C+the+fourth+annual+Drama+Showcase+granted+the+Andrew+Segal+memorial+scholarship+to+senior+Sean+Okuniewicz+from+Cupertino+High+School.+Photo+by+Shuyi+Qi.+
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An evening of entertainment

The lights shine brightly from behind the shimmery blue stage curtain as the show ends. This year, the fourth annual Drama Showcase granted the Andrew Segal memorial scholarship to senior Sean Okuniewicz from Cupertino High School. Photo by Shuyi Qi.

The lights shine brightly from behind the shimmery blue stage curtain as the show ends. This year, the fourth annual Drama Showcase granted the Andrew Segal memorial scholarship to senior Sean Okuniewicz from Cupertino High School. Photo by Shuyi Qi.

The lights shine brightly from behind the shimmery blue stage curtain as the show ends. This year, the fourth annual Drama Showcase granted the Andrew Segal memorial scholarship to senior Sean Okuniewicz from Cupertino High School. Photo by Shuyi Qi.

The lights shine brightly from behind the shimmery blue stage curtain as the show ends. This year, the fourth annual Drama Showcase granted the Andrew Segal memorial scholarship to senior Sean Okuniewicz from Cupertino High School. Photo by Shuyi Qi.

Shuyi Qi

 

Annual Drama Showcase provided night of hilarious improvisation, poignant monologues.

 

The lights shine brightly from behind the shimmery blue stage curtain as the show ends. This year, the fourth annual Drama Showcase granted the Andrew Segal memorial scholarship to senior Sean Okuniewicz from Cupertino High School. Photo by Shuyi Qi.

The lights shine brightly from behind the shimmery blue stage curtain as the show ends. This year, the fourth annual Drama Showcase granted the Andrew Segal memorial scholarship to senior Sean Okuniewicz from Cupertino High School. Photo by Shuyi Qi.

[dropcap1]I[/dropcap1]t was a night of lasagna, dessert and the lazy ease of Friday. It was a night of witty improv and great performances. But most of all, it was the night of the Drama Showcase in which seniors from different high schools congregated to audition for the Andrew Segal Memorial Scholarship. The scholarship is dedicated to an MVHS alumnus who passed away in 2009 while studying theater arts at the University of Arizona.

With Drama and English teacher Sara Capule as the Master of Ceremony and Class of 2013 alumni Kevin Singh and Vineet Vijaykumar as hosts, the fourth annual Drama Showcase took place in the Black Box; it was filled with tables as advanced drama students wended their way around them to wait on the guests.

The show started off with a funny and quirky introduction by the hosts. After the introduction, English teacher Matt Brashears refereed performances by the two competing improv teams. After announcing the rules, Brashears brought up the “white” and “black improv teams that performed a variety of improvisational games throughout the show.

No perfect performance

After the teams competed in games featuring impressions of Lady Gaga, George Washington and Shrek to the roars of laughter from the audience, Mitch Segal went on stage to talk about his son Andrew, who graduated in 2007 and was later accepted into the prestigious Arizona Repertory Theater.

Mitch then shifted to discussing the $1000 scholarship, which is sponsored by his family and is to be rewarded to a senior student who will be majoring in theater arts in college.

“One [value reflected in the award] is talent,” he said. “But talent in Andrew’s life was not enough. It was about hard work and discipline and always trying to be better. You know, in a day and age where we graduate students with 4.3’s and 4.6’s on the scale, usually there is no criticism because they’ve been perfect in their scores. For those of you who are parents and for those of you who are students who have entered theater arts, you know, there’s no such thing as a perfect performance.”

He continued to outline the importance of studying and supporting theater arts because it teaches communication skills that will be useful in any career path.

“If you are parents of theater art students, you’re probably wondering what if they don’t make it,” Mitch said. “I’m here to tell you that that degree is incredibly valuable, and I would tell you that [it] is every bit as valuable as an engineering degree, every bit as valuable as a degree in math and physics. No less important.”

 

Mitch Segal’s full speech 

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The auditions

As the speech drew to a close to cheers from the audience, senior Simone Becker stepped up to the stage to deliver a monologue as Lori from the 2007 play “Leaves” by Lucy Caldwell. Her raw, emotional monologue earned her enthusiastic applause. Afterwards, salad and lasagna from the Pasta Market was served as music from jazz band hummed in the background.

The second auditionee was senior Nemah Jalloh from Cupertino High School, who performed a monologue from the 1975 play “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf” by Ntozake Shange. Jalloh, who played Lady in Blue, also delivered a soulful performance that resonated around the room.

After an interlude of another improv game — “New Choice and Weekend at Bernie’s” — that resulted in hearty laughter from the audience, senior Sean Okuniewicz from CHS performed a powerful monologue as Biff from the famous 1949 Pulitzer Prize winning play “Death of a Salesman” by Arthur Miller.

 

                                                  

Curtains closing

After another round of improv games in which seniors Alexander Pieb, Mikey Goldman and sophomore Eric Crouch were dragged bizarrely around the stage as ragdolls, judges Meredith Rothrock, Sarah Thermond and Kathleen Woods deliberated over who would win the scholarship and eventually concluded that Okuniewicz would be the winner.

“I feel extremely honored about winning the scholarship,” he said. “[Mitch’s] son passed away and he’s chosen me in honor of that, and I just feel completely grateful.”

Okuniewicz had originally heard about the showcase from his drama teacher and was in the process of applying to different theater schools.

“I’m trying to take every opportunity that I can to audition,” he said. “I felt really nervous because the two people [going before me] were good…[and] that maybe it wasn’t going to be me.”

As people gathered around the winner to congratulate him, others were also impressed with the improv team.

“I was amazed by the way they came up with such snappy dialogue and such brilliant scenes with zero preparation, with zero knowledge of what was coming, so that was incredible,” said senior Aditi Ramaswamy.

Not only did the audience enjoy the performance, the cast did as well.

“I personally feel that hosting this event has been a different experience, especially for me, because I have watched and done things like wait for tables when I was a student at MVHS,” Vijaykumar said. “So coming back as an alumni has been something different. So we had a great time being in it and actually interacting with the audience.”

Scene.

 

Transcript of Mitch Segal’s speech. 

[toggle_code title=”Transcript”]What were the values that Andrew stood for in his unfortunately all too short life and what are the values that the scholarship is designed in reflect? One is talent. But talent in Andrew’s life was not enough. It was about hard work and discipline and always trying to be better. You know, in a day and age where we graduate students with 4.3’s and 4.6’s on the scale, usually there is no criticism because they’ve been perfect in their scores. For those of you who are parents and for those of you who are students who have entered theater arts, you know there’s no such thing as a perfect performance. And you know that your directors demand more of you after each rehearsal to allow you to get better. And so you accept constructive criticism as a vehicle for learning and how to get better. That seems to be a lost art when we study things like engineering, when we study things like mathematics. So it’s a very very valuable thing to have as a life skill. It’s something Andrew really embraced. And that really has to do with courage. Courage that you are comfortable with who you are, secure with who you are but you can still be even better. Those qualities of loving your fellow actors and living for the moment of the performance sharing in the joy of your performance with fellow actors. Those are the qualities that he really embodied and the qualities that are embodied in the award. So the last thing that I will say is, [which is] something I would tell the parents in particular: if you are parents of theater art students, you’re probably wondering what if they don’t make it. If they want to pursue a degree in theater arts, what is the value of that degree. What if they don’t end up on Broadway, what if they don’t end up in Hollywood? I’m here to tell you that that degree is incredibly valuable and I would tell you that that degree is every bit as valuable as an engineering degree, every bit as valuable as a degree in math and physics. No less important, largely because of those life skills and the soft skills that these kids will develop whether they end up going on live stage, whether they end up on television or maybe they’ll become trial lawyers or maybe they’ll go into public relations. But if they’re going to learn the value of how to communicate, they’re going to learn how to understand who their audience is, how to persuade their audience of their position. by the way, something critically important in Silicon Valley and it’s where people fall very short in able to be successful because they lack those very skills that are embodied in a career in theater arts. So what I would tell you as parents is that be proud of the fact that your student actually want to strive to achieve. They will experience pressures and the rigors of auditioning and of competing and of being challenged by audiences and challenging themselves to be the best that they can be, to embrace the constructive criticism and those are values that will serve them well no matter what they do in life. So it is not only an honorable path to take but a very valuable path to take and we are proud of the fact that we have the opportunity to provide a little bit of help to a deserving student one year and I hope and pray that we will have the ability to do this for many years to come. [/toggle_code]