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Oly students develop Oedipus complex

Sophomore Emily Carlson, left, reads lines from “Oedipus Rex” as Jocasta, with junior Sean McClain, who is portraying Oedipus. The play opens April 23 and runs through April 26. - Paul Balcerak/staff photo
Sophomore Emily Carlson, left, reads lines from “Oedipus Rex” as Jocasta, with junior Sean McClain, who is portraying Oedipus. The play opens April 23 and runs through April 26.
— image credit: Paul Balcerak/staff photo

t Play to open

April 23.

Greek tragedy makes its way to Olympic High School on April 23 when the drama department presents its rendition of Sophicles’ “Oedipus Rex,” through April 26.

The project represents a fairly ambitious undertaking for drama teacher and director David Clough and his young cast. Besides the challenges of the play’s heavy subject matter, a pair of somewhat-to-completely inexperienced actors have been thrust into the lead roles.

It could be risky, but it’s not an uncommon tactic for Clough, who has tapped newcomers for lead roles in the past.

“I work with inexperienced actors and it’s kind of hard for them to get to that level,” Clough said of the challenging script. (But,) “I like to do things that challenge the kids ... things they’ll feel proud of when they’re finished with them.”

The play, written around 429 B.C., is one of the world’s oldest and tells the tale of the downfall of King Oedipus (phonetically: “Ed-uh-pus”). Its themes go much deeper, however.

“It’s got that whole kind of statement about abuse of power ... and how we really don’t pay attention to our spiritual obligations, our familial obligations ... much to the detriment of ourselves,” Clough said. “(One of the themes is) ‘don’t allow your arrogance to cloud the will of the gods’ ... and you can install any god you want in that statement.”

To tell the tale, Clough has cast junior Sean McClain in the lead role as Oedipus.

The role is McClain’s first and represents the whole of his acting résumé.

“I was pretty surprised when I got it ‘cause this is my first time acting,” McClain said.

The acting bug bit McClain after he saw Olympic’s fall production of “Clue” and after he had spent time in Clough’s class, McClain said.

“Originally, I toyed with taking the role (myself) because it is so different, (but) I left it up to what happened in auditions,” Clough said. “Sean just seemed to have something.”

That’s a sentiment shared by McClain’s classmates and fellow actors.

“Isn’t he good?” junior Jessie Hals said of McClain. “He’s amazing. He’s Oedipus, he just is.”

Hals is one of Clough’s more experienced actors and will be portraying a palace messenger in the production.

The role has put a little pressure on McClain, but he’s had nothing but good reviews from the cast thus far and is optimistic about turning his classmates on to the material.

“They’re gonna recognize it from their English classes,” he said. “I think they’re gonna like the ending ’cause I stab my own eyes out. It’s gonna be painful. I’m gonna have a few headaches.”

The junior read the play himself in an English class and brushed up on it during his Christmas break to further study for the role.

Sophomore Emily Carlson is the other green lead, starring as Jocasta, Oedipus’s mother and wife. (That dynamic gets only a little less awkward in context of the play).

Carlson has some experience — a “small play” in junior high and a drama class — and is excited about the play’s dark tone and subject matter.

“It’s really dramatic,” she said. “You have several different emotions (in the play). It’s really intense and it just kind of keeps your attention. “There’s gonna be people screaming and crying and it’s gonna be really gory.”

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