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Willowbrook IHSA Contest Play qualifies for State Competition

Pictured is the cast and crew of Willowbrook’s Illinois High School Association (IHSA) Contest Play, “Elizabeth Rex," which qualified for the IHSA Drama & Group Interpretation State Competition. That event took place on March 23 and 24 at Peoria Civic Center in Peoria, and Willowbrook hosted a State send-off celebration for the group on March 22.

Willowbrook students perform scenes from the school's Illinois High School Association (IHSA) Contest Play, “Elizabeth Rex," which qualified for the IHSA Drama & Group Interpretation State Competition. They are (top left, from left to right) senior Isabella Ledonne (Kate "Tardy" Tardwell) and senior Genevieve Corkery (Queen Elizabeth I), (top right) Corkery, (bottom left) senior Julia Cicero and (bottom right) senior John DeAngelo (Ned Lowenscroft) and Corkery. The state competition took place on March 23 and 24 at Peoria Civic Center in Peoria. Photos by Sara Corkery

Willowbrook’s Illinois High School Association (IHSA) Contest Play, “Elizabeth Rex” by Timothy Findley, qualified for the IHSA Drama & Group Interpretation State Competition, which took place on March 23 and 24 at Peoria Civic Center in Peoria. Willowbrook hosted a State send-off celebration for the group on March 22.

The cast and crew qualified after placing 2nd at Sectionals, where four students also received All-Sectional Cast recognition. They are senior Genevieve Corkery (Queen Elizabeth I), senior John DeAngelo (Ned Lowenscroft), junior Joe LaPointe (Henry "Harry" Pearle) and senior Isabella Ledonne (Kate "Tardy" Tardwell).

“Elizabeth Rex” is based on the historical knowledge that Queen Elizabeth I saw a Shakespearean play the night before her lover, the Earl of Essex, was beheaded for treason. Findley's Elizabeth spends her evening in her palace barn; she has chosen to spend the night with Shakespeare and his actors in an effort to distract herself from the upcoming execution. There, she passes the time with Shakespeare, Ned Lowenscroft (the world's greatest "player of women") and other actors who are stuck at the palace by a curfew, awaiting the execution. Ned and Elizabeth butt heads and explore the nature of grief (Ned is dying and cannot grieve his lover, and Elizabeth is brokenhearted about having to kill her lover), gender (Ned, whose profession has him acting as a woman, and Elizabeth, who has to shutter her "womanly emotions" to protect her England), and the power of theatre to heal wounds and be a salve to tired souls.

“I chose this play because I fell in love with the script and its powerful themes,” said Willowbrook Theatre Director Regina Wathier. “I love how Findley explores the nature of gender expectations for men and women, and I found Elizabeth's struggle of balancing her leadership position with her personal relationships – and where and how that sacrifice occurs – is definitely applicable to women (and men) in modern society. I also felt this play gave all of my students an opportunity to stretch themselves and learn something new: Elizabethan-period movement, dialect work, prosthetic makeup experience, period costuming and props, etc. ‘Elizabeth Rex’ has provided a fun and unique challenge for us all!”

Willowbrook High School
1250 S. Ardmore Avenue Villa Park, IL 60181
Phone: 630-530-3400 Fax: 630-530-3401
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