Tuesday, Nov. 13 2012 5:49PM
‘Brave and awesome’
SCA seniors lead freshmen-laden cast in tornado-based drama
By Toriano Porter
Easton Parks and Nicki Murff, a pair of seniors at Summit Christian Academy, are long in the tooth stage performers at the school.
Parks has close to a dozen stage play credits at SCA to his name, while Murff checks in with eight. Both are part of an ensemble cast of 12 in SCA’s fall production of “Acts of God,” a tornado-based drama written by Mark Rigney.
“Acts of God” tracks 12 high-school students through the year following a devastating tornado strike. As the students grieve, assist in the recovery efforts, and tackle the basics of getting on with life, they must also cope with the storm’s emotional debris. The threat of a new storm forces each character to relive the once-in-a-lifetime terror as they try to put the previous destruction behind them.
The cast includes a heavy dose of freshmen, and the full crew is comprised of 35 students total.
“I remember when I was a ninth grader doing theater and stuff, but I remember being terrified of the older kids,” Murff said. “Sometimes I wouldn’t talk and I really like to talk to them a lot and try to make them feel welcomed. We have a really outgoing group of kids. I don’t think I was as cool as them when I was a young. I really wasn’t. They’re so brave and awesome.”
Parks said: “This year we have a lot of new faces; a lot of younger kids that are coming up to do the play. Last year we graduated a large group of older kids who were heavily involved with the theater. Now, with the new group, it’s really fun to get to know new people and get close to different people who you don’t know.”
Added Emily Stam, director of the play: “Almost half the cast are freshmen and that’s been a really good thing to watch them grow. It’s been really great.”
With the Joplin tornado not to far in the review mirror and embedded in the psyche of not only the state, but the region and nation, “Acts of God” is a timely and relevant look at young people’s resolve and attitude towards adversity.
Parks plays a reluctant hero and Murff’s character loses her mother in the tornado, and in essence, lashes out by terrorizing fellow students.
“Zach is kind of the quieter kid that when the tornado hits he’s like that hero that comes out of nowhere, but doesn’t really want to be noticed,” Parks said of his character. “When tough times come up, he’s there.”
On playing her character, Murff added: “It was hard; I’m a mean character to the other ones. I’m especially mean to the Christian girl, who is trying to become a witness to me, but I’m really not OK with that – and that was hard because the girl that plays her is so sweet. It wasn’t that hard to play a mean character, but the sadness (of losing a mother) was hard. I tried to picture losing my on mom, which is really depressing on stage.”
Stam said she is proud of the cast and crew of the play, regardless of classification.
“It’s a very serious subject matter, but they’ve been very respectful,” she said. “From the start we were very big on making it realistic and treating the whole process with respect. We did a lot of research. We talked to someone who had volunteered to do tornado relief in Joplin and stuff like that, so they’ve taken it really seriously. I’m very proud of them.”
“Acts of God” premiers at 7 p.m. Nov. 15 at Summit Christian Academy, 1450 S.W. Jefferson, and runs through Nov. 17. The play starts at 7 p.m. all three nights. Tickets are available for $6 in advance or $8 at the door. Call 816-525-1480 for more information.