Choreographed swordfights, archery and a classic story of good versus evil will be on full display Thursday through Saturday when the organization Performing Arts to Homeschoolers (PATH) will bring the story of Robin Hood to the Chehalis Theater.
Angela Wilcox, who is co-directing the ensemble of 16 actors ranging in age from 13 to 18, said the tale is that of the ultimate good guy facing off against the ultimate bad guy. In this case, those roles are filled by the classic hero Robin Hood and the dastardly villain the Sheriff of Nottingham.
Joshua Bishop, 16, who portrays the sheriff in the play, said he enjoyed filling the villain’s role. It’s not a version of the sheriff those familiar with the story might expect. The role is more comical than usual, with the sheriff anxious and unsure of himself.
“He tries very hard to be serious and sometimes he manages it, but his self doubt and fear of those with higher power than him … he has a lot of anxiety when he’s around those sort of people,” said Bishop.
The cast was hard at work in the theater Monday, where prop swords, bows and arrows were stacked on tables. Painted backdrops adorned the stage and the area around the stage, turning the theater into the shrouds of Sherwood Forest.
The crew has been practicing since April, said Wilcox. They started with practicing once per week, before moving into two weeks of tech week, where practice becomes more involved. In those last two weeks, practice takes place in the actual venue the play will take place — in this case, the classic Chehalis Theater in downtown Chehalis.
When moving practice from Mountain View Baptist Church — which hosts the PATH performers for the bulk of their time practicing — to the theater, the actors and directors have found they need to adapt certain scenes to work for the stage, like the right time and place for each actor to enter and exit a scene.
Sydney Sandstron, 16, and Clayton Porter, 16, fill the roles of Maid Marian and Robin Hood, respectively. They both said it’s been a fun experience practicing in the theater, though not without its challenges.
“It’s been really fun, actually, but the lighting was a little difficult,” said Sandstron, with Porter adding with a laugh that it took six actors to change a light bulb.
Porter hadn’t acted in any of PATH’s productions before. He had worked lights and sounds, however. Sandstron said this is her fourth time in a PATH play, although the role has proven to be her largest yet.
Wilcox, who is co-directing the play with Andrea Gillien, said she read through many scripts before settling on “Robin Hood” as the best story for the students to tackle.
“It stays true to the heart of the story,” she said. “Which is help the needy, help the poor, stay loyal to the true king.”
She spoke highly of the students and their acting abilities, saying she sets high standards, and lets them know it, with the belief that they’ll rise to the occasion.
“They’re really talented and they’re rising to the challenge of telling the story and not doing a mediocre job. I really like to push them as far as I can, to get them to tell the story well and make sure the audience is relating to the story. … I think that story telling is important, and if you’re having an audience, you should have a worthy telling of it, and I think they’re doing a fantastic job,” she said.
Tickets for “Robin Hood” will cost $10 and are available for purchase at the door. Show times are 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday and 3 p.m. Saturday.
Homeschooled students interested in getting involved with PATH can reach out via email at email@example.com.