By Travis Sloat
Justice Baughman said he likes acting because becoming a different person is a challenge.
“It’s a way to get away from my own stresses too,” Baughman said. “You don’t have to care about what other people think, because you’re a character, not you.”
Baughman, a junior at Muskogee High School, is part of the Muskogee High Repertory Theatre, a drama troupe that focuses solely on acting, without the blending of music or stages. Baughman is the student co-director of “Twelve Angry People,” which the troupe will perform this weekend. It is an adaptation of the classic “Twelve Angry Men.”
Kat Trueblood, who has been acting since she was 8, heads the troupe. She said MHRT was established so kids talented in acting but not singing would “have a place to go.”
“These kids want to do more creative theater,” Trueblood said. “They want to interact with the audience. I usually end up with all the kids that don’t like to talk, and they won’t stop talking by the end of it.”
The drama will be performed in the Muskogee High School cafeteria tonight and Saturday night. Saturday’s show offers an optional dinner catered by Gino’s before the show.
Ashley Mayle, also a junior and co-director, said she loves acting because it provides her with a chance to be around a lot of people.
“I like to be in a play where you can make the character your own,” she said. “This play lets you do that. It’s not set up with strict rules. It’s on a script until you breathe life into the character.”
Trueblood gave her students free rein to practice Wednesday as she designed posters for background images. There was very little correction needed, as the actors were on point with cues, lines, and even the dramatic conclusion.
Baughman said a lot of people didn’t think MHRT, with some of its younger members, could pull off such an intricate piece.
“I’ve always been hard-headed and stubborn,” he said. “Once I set my mind to do it, we were going to do it well.”
At the penultimate moment in the play, Baughman is required to lunge at a fellow actor, Charles Dennison, which he does with gusto. Several other “jurors” hold him back, and the fight he put on seems real.
Trueblood said each of her students becomes “her” actor, and she tries to give them the support they need.
“The people of Muskogee need to come see this show,” she said. “These are high school kids pulling off an Academy Award-winning drama, and they are doing an amazing job of it. We rise and fall together. We may not be perfect, but we have a blast doing it.”
If you go
WHAT: MHRT’s production of “Twelve Angry People.”
WHEN: Friday doors open at 6:30 p.m. and show is at 7. Saturday, dinner option from 6 to 7 p.m., doors open for show at 7, show at 7:30.
COST: $5 for the show, $15 for dinner option on Saturday. Dinner tickets must be purchased 24 hours before show.
INFO: Kat Trueblood, (918) 684-3750.