Foley High School's upcoming production of "Our Town" will take center stage beginning Oct. 17, and students are preparing to step into the spotlight to perform the classic American tale. However, …
Foley High School's upcoming production of "Our Town" will take center stage beginning Oct. 17, and students are preparing to step into the spotlight to perform the classic American tale. However, there's a twist; the leading lady is Italian exchange student Ludovica Mele.
Mele, who is originally from Carpi, Italy, will be completing her eleventh grade year in Foley and will be playing the lead, Emily Webb.
"I had been doing theater in my city for five years, and I've played roles in Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet and auditioned for commercials in Italy," Mele said. "When I heard I could pursue my dream here an have a new experience, I knew I had to do it."
Mele said she has always dreamed of studying abroad and jumped at the chance to attend school in America.
"I have always been a person who loved to travel. I think it is important to open your mind, and I had been interested in visiting America since I got the information in middle school," Mele said. "I was matched with a family and Foley and got to meet my host family. I think it is something that can help you a lot from an educational point of view, and I'm getting better and better at English, experiencing a new school system, new culture and new foods."
Mele said that while she has been studying English since elementary school, rehearsing for the play has proved to have its challenges.
"Acting in another language can be tricky, especially with the pronunciation," Mele said. "My biggest concern is are people going to understand what I say? But by saying and repeating the lines, it helps me to focus."
Mele said auditioning for the play seemed daunting at first, but Theater Director Logan Lane helped her to feel more comfortable.
"As soon as I found out there was a play we were going to do, I thought that I should just try it. I'm only here for a year, and I want people to see what I can do," Mele said. "I didn't audition for a specific role but told Mr. Lane to pick whatever he thought fit me the best."
Mele said she auditioned in Italian, doing a portion of Juliet's monologue from Shakespeare's classic "Romeo and Juliet."
"I was very excited when I got the role, and to have people support me like Mr. Lane, I think it's beautiful that someone would put that much faith into me, even if English isn't my first language," Mele said. "I have loved the chance to meet new people who share the same passion as me. It's been a great opportunity."
As for Lane, he said the experience has been eye opening for him as well.
"We were having a conversation about theater and talking about the monologue. I told her to go for it and do it in Italian if it would make her more comfortable," Lane said. "The thing about acting is that no matter what the language is, we can understand what is happening in the story. She was speaking in Italian, but I got it and I was there."
Lane also said that working with Mele has had a great benefit and impact on the other students in the cast.
"I think that obviously living in Foley, we get a lot of tourists. But, I don't think our students are always exposed to a lot of different cultures or may not think to ask," Lane said. "I think it is very interesting to hear her insights about America, and it forces us all to have an examination and discussion about that. Performing 'Our Town' is also very fitting; the show represents a small town and the good, bad and ugly of the human experience."
About the show
The play was described by Edward Albee as "the greatest American play ever written." "Our Town" presents the small town of Grover's Corners in three acts: "Daily Life," "Love and Marriage" and "Death and Eternity."
Narrated by a stage manager and performed with minimal props and sets, the play depicts the simple daily lives of the Webb and Gibbs families as their children fall in love, marry and, eventually, in one of the most famous scenes in American theatre; die.
Performances will take place at 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 17-19, at the Foley Civic Center. Visit www.facebook.com/foleyhightheatre for updates on ticketing information.