KATY MAGAZINE NEWS
October 8, 2019
By Jennifer Miko
Why do the Theatre Directors at Katy High School have certified lifeguards at every rehearsal? The Technical Theatre students have constructed a large indoor pool to replace the stage for their upcoming production, and most of the actors in Metamorphoses will perform in the water.
The Katy High School Theatre Company continues its legacy of creating one-of-a-kind productions. Over the next two weekends, the company presents Mary Zimmerman’s Metamorphoses, a collection of Greek myths told with a modern flair. Talented high school actors will perform in a large indoor pool, constructed by the KHS Theatre students.
“We enjoy challenging our student technicians and actors with all of the components that come with putting a pool in the Black Box," says Katy Tagliabue, Head Theatre Director. "Zimmerman encourages us to ask ourselves how love and life challenge us to change. Water, being a natural element of change, serves as the perfect setting for the show."
The cast and crew rehearsed for weeks before the pool was completed, and depended on the expert guidance of Katy Theatre’s Technical Director, Charlie Woods.
"He made sure everyone was taking every precaution to account for how the water would affect the movement of the actors, as well as the designs of the pool," says Tagliabue.
Costuming and makeup for the show presented more challenges because they needed to withstand the water as well as pool chemicals. Costumer, and former KHS Theatre Director Rachel Smith, conducted various tests to determine the durability of the materials.
Assistant Director Josh Hery says, “When it comes to this stage, you have to realize what works and what doesn’t, like having to adjust the blocking in the pool for the lifts.”
Metamorphoses is Hery’s seventh production with Katy Theatre. Next fall, he plans to pursue a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theatre at Stephen F. Austin State University.
“I’m loving every second of it - no one will ever do this show again,” Hery says. “People should come in the door to see the pool, and stay for the stories showing the classic and modern at the same time.”
KHS Theatre cast members rehearse Metamorphoses.
Woods has been teaching in the district for 23 years. He moved from Taylor High School to KHS in 2015 and has been challenging the students there ever since. In all of their productions, he says, the set, lights and sound are all student driven.
When asked what his greatest achievement has been as a teacher, Woods humbly answers, “When kids come back and say what they’re doing now is because of what they learned while they were here.”
Building the Indoor Pool
Woods consulted with his Tech students in July to consider the technical requirements to build the pool. He estimates that 15-20 students were involved at some point in the pool’s construction process, contributing to about 100 production hours.
Woods and the students spent about four days engineering the structural elements. The students needed to figure out the materials, calculate the stresses of the water on all sides, with and without actors in the pool. As a precaution, Woods has a program on his phone that sends a signal if there’s a leak.
Stats on KHS Theatre’s Indoor Pool
Size: 17’ W x 20’ L
Water Depth: 18 inches
Gallons of Water: 3800 – 3900
Water Temperature: Low 70s
The pool has a filtration system and the water runs through a UV sanitizer, and requires some chlorine. Twice a day, sophomore Andrew Goodwin, the Pool Maintenance Specialist for Metamorphoses, tests the PH and chlorine levels. Before and after rehearsals Goodwin also vacuums and skims the pool.
Goodwin says friends from other schools are “surprised and ask, ‘how are you doing this?’”
This is the Goodwin's fourth production with Katy Theatre. In addition to his pool responsibilities, he is one of the company’s certified lifeguards, and works on the costume run crew for the show.
Directors Working with the Elements
Tagliabue joined the Katy Theatre Department last year and directed her first main stage play, George Orwell’s 1984, in the fall. In January, the company put on Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. For that production, she and Woods transformed the Black Box by creating a giant sand box "stage" with six cubic yards of sand. The play was performed in the round, with the audience seated on all sides. At the culmination of the show, rain poured onto the stage from a system Woods and his student technicians engineered.
As Katy Theatre rehearses for opening night, Woods reminds the actors and technicians, “In your lifetime you may never get another opportunity to learn what you’re doing in this kind of environment.”
The students and directors in the KHS Theatre program have dedicated themselves to the success of this production and have learned to embrace many challenges. They know they are a part of something special, something that's never been done before in Katy ISD.
“A handful of designers in the state might have the opportunity to do something like this,” says Woods. “The goal for this show is to be educational. All of this is steps in the process - it has to go through the students' hands. That’s why we do the things that we do.”
KHS Theatre Metamorphoses Performances
Thursday – Saturday, October 10-12 at 7:00 pm
Thursday – Saturday, October 17-19 at 7:00pm
Katy High School Black Box Theatre
6331 Highway Boulevard, Katy
For more information and tickets, visit Katy Theatre's website.