‘Fun romp through that world’: Nevada Union High School drama department presents ‘Puffs or Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic and Magic’
Special to Prospector
Among the many events and traditional activities that have been put on pause over the past two years sat the Nevada Union High School drama department’s annual live performance — until now. A part of the curriculum includes holding public performances as the ultimate reward for all the hard work, which many students have been missing. All of that is being remedied with a fun, lighthearted play based on a certain wizarding which we are all familiar with.
“Puffs or Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic and Magic,” the acclaimed hit off-Broadway play written by Matt Cox, tells the story of students at a certain Wizard School, with a certain boy wizard. It is not his story, but the story of the other Puffs who just happened to be there too. It is promoted as a tale for anyone who has never been destined to save the world.
“Puffs” is not authorized, sanctioned, licensed or endorsed by J.K. Rowling, Warner Bros. or any person or company associated with the Harry Potter books, films or play. Drama Department Instructor Rob Metcalfe explained, “The fair use copyright allowed these authors to put together a play that has enough nuanced references to where we all know what we’re talking about, but we don’t break any copyright laws. So, there’s a little bit of delicacy in how we promote it, but it is that year of school from different houses perspective. They are characterized as fun and sweet and maybe a bit dull witted, but just kind.” Metcalfe added that the play portrays the happenings from this new perspective with parody and satire, and said it is “a fun romp through that world.”
The licensing and rights are purchased, which is just one of the costs incurred when putting on what used to be a fundraiser for the department. While they can always use the financial support, plays are also the best way to bring other students into the program. But, Metcalfe said, what is most important for him and for the students is to be able to perform in front of a live audience, and he feels especially sad for the seniors. “Kids don’t get too excited about doing in-class scenes. They want to show it. The seniors didn’t really get a play in their junior year or much in their sophomore year, for that matter. This senior class really hasn’t had the opportunities that other classes have had.”
There are many factors that help determine what type of play to put on, Metcalfe said, including finding something with wide appeal. “The world that this play is based on is very popular. Everybody knows it. It appeals to the age range of our students. And I love the message. It’s lighthearted and not particularly difficult to direct, though there are hundreds of lighting cues. But the acting and the set was doable given the uncertainties of how long we would be in school or what would be happening with attendance.”
As for any drama around COVID-19 and the restrictions it has placed on the students, Metcalfe said it’s been amazing how the students just roll with it. “These kids are troopers. It’s not very dramatic. It falls into the category of ‘don’t worry about the things you have no control over.’ There’s no stress. We are just going to get by the best we can and that has been the attitude that I and the kids have been taking, and we have been having fun even though there is a lot of uncertainty around it.” Metcalfe added the kids have gotten used to uncertainty. “They are resilient and optimistic. Are there challenges? Of course! But I think they are just willing to accept what comes up. Kids are stepping up. It’s wonderful.”
The high school has been back in session since August and the students have been working on the play since October and they are ready for the payoff. Metcalfe said getting out and seeing this play is not just about being entertained. “Don’t come and see it just because you are interested in being entertained. These kids have been sacrificing so much. Just support them and support kids getting to do positive things and pushing through this and being persistent and not giving up on life. To me, that is really the story of this play. It would be a shame — for all that they have sacrificed and all that they have worked for — to not perform to full houses.”
Hollie Grimaldi Flores is a Nevada County resident and freelance writer for hire, as well as a podcaster at HollieGrams. You can hear her episodes at https://www.buzzsprout.com/1332253. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
KNOW & GO
WHO: Nevada Union High School Drama Department
WHAT: “Puffs or Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic and Magic,” Matt Cox’s’ acclaimed hit Off-Broadway play.
WHEN: Feb. 3, 4, 5, 10, 11 and 12. General admission seating begins at 6:30 p.m. Show starts at 7 p.m.
WHERE: Nevada Union High School’s Don Baggett Theatre, 11761 Ridge Rd. Grass Valley
TICKETS: Fridays and Saturdays: $12/advance and $15/door. Thursdays: $5/advance and $10/door. Advance sale tickets purchased online at http://nutheatre.seatyourself.biz. Door sales begin at 5:45 p.m. before each performance.
MORE INFO: Visit http://www.nudrama.com or call 530-273-4431 x1033
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