CCHS speech: It can move you

It’s a long-running stupid joke with me. It’s something I’ll ask reporters when they come back from an assignment or a copy editor who finished proofing my writing.

“Did you laugh? Did you cry? Did it move you?”

Well, Thursday night, the Charles City High School speech kids made all three happen.

I attended their public performance at the old middle school auditorium. This weekend they will perform for state contest judges in Decorah. Thursday, they performed for us.

Full disclosure: I was there because my daughter, Rose, was a member of one of the improvisation teams. She, Mariah McKenzie – who was possessed by Gollum at one point — and McKenna Jensen  improvised a skit about the first day in a kindergarten with an apparent vermin infestation. People really seemed to enjoy when kindergartener Rose’s face went numb from poison and classmate Mariah sent her flying across the floor with a slap to apparently test just how numb she was.

Another improvisation team acted out astronauts finding life on the moon.

“There sure are a lot of rocks,” an astonished astronaut John Perez said as he stepped out from the capsule onto the lunar surface. He and his partner are soon met, and terrified by, lunar resident Gavin Connell who squat-walked into the scene burping out nonsense with his arms flailing. Exasperated after failing to establish communication, one of the astronauts blurts out “Take us to your leader.”

Connell jumped straight up into a stiff Brit persona and said “Well, why didn’t you say so” and strode off on a mission.

It was in this skit also that we learned the Vulcan hand sign from Star Trek “Doesn’t mean what you think it means,” Connell tells Perez.

The improv acts gave way to more serious fare.

Only inches separated the faces of Ryan Wolfe’s red-faced Torvald and Gillian King’s Nora in a scene from “The Doll’s House.” He was yelling at her, lashing out as his control over his proper home crumbled. As much as the classic’s lines were penned to portray exasperation, confusion, fear, betrayal and sorrow, King said as much in her silence. In this case she stood unwavering, even leaning slightly forward. Her days as an abused wife were done.

Acting out a court scene from “Inherit the Wind,” Elias King’s portrayal of attorney Matthew Drummond at the Scopes Monkey Trial is booming and mocking as he slowly unnerves Cameron McKenna’s character of Matthew Harrison Brady, an unrelenting to a fault man of faith.

The reader’s theater group capped of the night with a look at the world’s history of oppressing and using women. Especially considering the headlines of the day unveiling the outright crimes against girls and women, It’ poignant to hear from the young women in the group explaining how more they were like livestock and slaves for most of history. We need to do so much better for our daughters.

. . . . . . . .

In all these are the Charles  City speech team competing in State competition Saturday, Feb. 3, in Decorah:

  • Senior Ashlyn Bauer and junior Ruby Peterson with their ensemble “Romeo and Juliet.”
  • Improv players include the trio of Jensen, Baldus and McKenzie; sister duo of Lily and Emily Woodard; and the trio of Connell, John Perez, and Chris Campbell.
  • Seniors Elias King and Cameron McKenna with their ensemble “Inherit the Wind.”
  • Seniors Gillian King and Wolfe with an ensemble titled “A Doll’s House.”
  • Readers Theater with its presentation on “The American Dame.’
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