Khushi Hota '22 as Kamala Khan, along with the cast of Mirror of Most Value: A Kamala Khan Play.
This past winter, Holton was among a handful of schools around the country to pilot an exciting new project from Marvel: The Upper School had the opportunity to present several plays from the all-new Marvel Spotlight series. Publicity for the project was embargoed until the plays were published, and now that this has taken place—as announced via a June 24 New York Times article—we are happy to share our role in the development of these works.
The Samuel French website explains, "Marvel Spotlight is an all-new way to experience some of the greatest heroes ever! A series of plays developed for teenagers, Marvel Spotlight explores the humans behind your favorite Super Heroes as they balance mastering their newfound powers while facing the real-world challenges of young adults."
During the 2018-2019 school year, Holton's Drama Department was invited to pilot the Marvel Spotlight plays and provide feedback to the playwrights. These included Squirrel Goes to College: A Squirrel Girl Play by Karen Zacarias and Mirror of Most Value: A Kamala Khan Play by Masi Asare. Performances took place on the Lewis Theater stage from Feb. 21-23.
The project was exciting—and fulfilling—for all those involved, from the playwrights to the actors to the directors. Zacarias, who attended a performance, says, "From the original music to the sound, to the costumes and set, to the great acting beats, it was thrilling to see these drafts realized in such wonderful ways."
For the actors, it was equally impactful. "Playing Squirrel Girl was an incredible experience that tested me as an actor and reminded me why theater is so important in our modern world," says Squirrel Goes to College star Paige Magid '20.
Khushi Hota '22, who played the lead in Mirror of Most Value, says, "I'm incredibly grateful for the opportunity I had to bring Kamala's journey to life—a fun and rewarding experience that provided me with perspective on my own life. Clumsy, persistent, and certainly not perfect, Kamala is a character I easily relate to. I loved being able to play the first-ever Muslim, South Asian superhero, which hits close to home with my own South Asian roots. Kamala's hilarious awkwardness and keen sense of self come to light through her experiences with her image and social media, a topic that all teenagers should be able to understand."
Holton faculty and staff who were involved also bubbled with enthusiasm about the project, process, and all the resulting learning and growth. Mark Robinson, who directed Squirrel Girl Goes to College, explains, "Not only did students get to see firsthand what is involved in the creation of new dramatic works, but we also all got to put on some great plays centered around some awesome female superheroes."
Drama director Elizabeth Zitelli oversaw the production and brought this unique opportunity to the School. She worked with playwright Karen Zacarias at her previous job with Young Playwrights' Theater in Washington, D.C. "When Karen reached out to say they were looking for a local school to pilot her play, I was over the moon," Zitelli says. "It was a remarkable opportunity for our students—helping to lift characters out of comic-book pages and bringing them to life onstage. They were able to communicate suggested changes to the playwrights and know that the things they invented in their performance might serve as a model for other schools."
View more photos from Holton's Marvel Spotlight production here.
Paige Magid '20, Skye Worster '20, Ben Freeman '20, Alan Mirzoev '22 in Squirrel Girl Goes to College: A Squirrel Girl Play.
Student participants included Maya Abiy, Alexandra Angelos, Lauren Cooke, Lucas Cuervo, Abby Forrest, Ben Freeman, Lailah Fritz, Penny Gallagher, Thomas Gao, Rodrigo Garcia, Maya Grebowski, Ainsley Hartke-Crottey, Brielle Herlein, Addie Horowicz, Khushi Hota, Grace Huntington, Nyla Jones, Sukhmani Kakar, Sabrina Lahlou, Micaela Lamas, Paige Magid, Lucy Mason, Alan Mirzoev, Lily Muhlbaum, Ema Nakayama, Will Nussbaum, Amanda Phillips, Asma Poshni, Allie Stroman, Talia Szalay, Lucy Ventimiglia, Skye Worster, Molly Adams, Jemma Bazemore, Anushka Dar, Logan Finley-Wallace, Sofia Gerlein, Portia Gharai, Jessie Israel, Abby Manderfield, Keshini Maynard, Nina Mourão, Elizabeth Price, Pascale Schmidt, Annalise Shiroma, Avery Sion, Iman Syed, Natsuki Takizawa, Renata Taylor-Smith, Raeyan Syed, and Sara War
Guest artists included Melissa Dunphy (composer), Mary Grant (lighting designer), Scott Herlein (co-director for Mirror of Most Value: A Kamala Khan Play), Kate Magill Robinson (costume designer for Squirrel Girl Goes to College: A Squirrel Girl Play), and Jesse Shipley (costume designer for Mirror of Most Value: A Kamala Khan Play, wardrobe manager).
Faculty members involved were Rachel Herlein, (co-director for Mirror of Most Value; A Kamala Khan Play), Mark Robinson (director of Squirrel Girl Goes to College: A Squirrel Girl Play, set design, technical direction, fight choreography), Joseph Staub (assistant technical direction, carpentry), and Elizabeth Zitelli (project producer).
During the 2019-2020 school year, Holton's Upper School will proudly present Chicago (High School Edition) from Nov. 7-9 and Peter and the Starcatcher from Feb. 20-22. Look for more details soon on our drama page.