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Katy’s Paetow HS Creates Drive-in Theatre for Upcoming Shows

KATY MAGAZINE NEWS

November 10, 2020

By Jennifer Miko

Get your tickets now to a drive-in theatre experience in Katy. The Paetow High School Theatre Company presents “Fahrenheit 451” on a big screen Thursday and Saturday for audiences to watch from their cars in the school’s parking lot. On Friday, the program will be streamed for patrons to watch from home.

The drive-in theatre presentation of “Fahrenheit 451" will be showcased for two nights on a giant movie screen set up in front of the Paetow High School Performing Arts Center at 23111 Stockdick School Road in Katy. Patrons can watch the show from their cars at 7 p.m. Thursday, November 12, and Saturday, November 14 for $5 per person. The program will also be streamed for audiences to watch from home on Friday, November 13, at 7 p.m. Streaming tickets cost $20 per household.


With this special presentation, the PHS Theatre Company brings Ray Bradbury's 1953 classic, “Fahrenheit 451,” to life. The dystopian story asks the question, "What if books were illegal and people were forbidden to read them?"


“This production is a true representation of a community committed to keeping theatre alive and present even throughout a global pandemic,” says Paetow High School Theatre Director Elizabeth Mace. 

She said the decision to present the production as a drive-in and streaming was an easy one. The PHS Theatre Company wanted to provide a safe environment for the students and community to experience theatre. 


“Because we have a number of students that are KVA and F2F, we felt it was important to provide an environment that all of our families would feel comfortable attending,” says Mace.

Students and Directors Thrive with New Technical Elements

PHS Theatre Technical Director, John Holt, has been planning the technical elements of this project for months, and the students had the opportunity to utilize new technology and equipment in order to shoot the production. 

“The District provided Adobe Premiere for our students to use for the actual editing of the scenes,” says Mace. “Additionally, our Booster Club was fortunate enough to purchase us a special microphone to help us capture the sound on set.”

Theatergoers will watch the production on a 12-foot-wide by 20-foot-high projector screen built by the PHS Theatre set crew. Plus, the program will use a radio transmitter to ensure the audience can remain in their vehicles and listen to the performance on their FM radios.


“Our tech students have done a phenomenal job capturing the heart and soul of this production,” says Mace. 

Pictured: Masudul Khasru and Aimee Huggins

Sophomore Aimee Huggins, who managed the filming and editing of “Fahrenheit 451,” admits the biggest challenge has been the race against the clock.

“It has been hard editing and filming at the same time,” says Aimee Huggins. “I think this opportunity is so incredibly amazing for our company. Not only is it a chance for us to do what makes us happy, but it is also an incredible learning experience for a new type of theatre.

Senior Michael Cummings has been in Theatre for six years and worked as the Light Head for this production. He agrees with Huggins about meeting deadlines.

“The main challenge was configuring a film in a short amount of time,” says Michael Cummings. “This was the first time we have done film, so it was a learning experience the entire time.”

Since “Fahrenheit 451” was shot at several different locations Cummings learned the importance of mobile technology.

“We had to get different LED and fluorescent lights to carry around, but it was a lot of fun being able to travel around and get to stage lighting, especially in a house,” says Cummings.


Company Embrace Flexibility and Problem-Solving

The actors had two weeks to block and rehearse their scenes, and then two weeks to shoot them. Mace said they staggered virtual and in-person rehearsals to minimize the number of students in the space after school.


“I believe overall our company has learned to think on their feet and work together to solve problems quickly both in front of the camera and behind the scenes,” says Mace.


The students recorded some of the show’s scenes on the PAC stage and outside of PHS. However, Mace said the majority of the scenes were shot after school, including remote locations like the Westlake Fire Department, Peckham Park, Old Town Katy, and multiple homes.

“Flexibility was a huge element of the success of this production,” says Mace. “‘Fahrenheit 451’ is a true collaboration between our students, parents, and community members as a whole.”  

Cast and Crew Grateful for Opportunity

Malia Vargas plays Beatty in “Fahrenheit 451.” The senior has participated in Theatre for the past seven years.

“I feel extremely blessed that I get the honor to perform again, even if it’s not the way I’m used to,” says Malia Vargas. “During quarantine, I realized what I missed the most was being on stage with my best friends, and even though it isn’t the same, I’m getting to do my favorite thing in the world.”

Pictured: Andrew Nurre and Malia Vargas

“No manner of words can describe how grateful I am to have been given the opportunity to perform a full show by our directors,” says senior Andrew Nurre who plays Montag in the show. “The opportunity to do a production in the style of filming has been phenomenal!"

“We are proud of our students and the hard work they have put into this production,” says Mace. “As always, we are committed to excellence in the arts and creating an environment that fosters growth for our students. This project has exceeded all of our expectations!” 

“We’ve put a lot of hard work into this show, so it would mean a great deal to have people come see it!” says Nurre.

“This story is one we had to tell in order to remind everyone that it is up to us to make things better,” says Mace. “With so much discord and unrest in the world, it is important to remember to keep fighting for what you believe in and remember that history does not need to repeat itself.” 


For ticket information, visit the PHS Theatre Company website here.

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