PUBLISHED: 2:50 PM on Wednesday, November 15, 2006
'Holes' is a story students can dig
Juneau-Douglas High School

Photo by Sarah Conarro
  From left: Stanley (Zac Pease), Zero (Gus Browning), Magnet (DJ DeRego), X-Ray (Miciana Hutcherson) and Zig-Zag (Bethany Easaw) as the delinquent crew sent to Camp Green Lake to dig holes.
"You are here on account of one person; do you know who that one person is?"

"Yeah, my no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing-great-great-grandfather, that's who it is."

Juneau-Douglas High School's theater department has done it again, this time with the successful production of "Holes," based on the book by Louis Sachar.

Meet Stanley Yelnats, a nerdy boy that feels that he and his family have a knack for being at the wrong place at the wrong time. The story opens with Stanley confirming his belief of his family curse when a pair of stolen shoes falls from the sky onto his head.

For punishment, Stanley leaves for Camp Green Lake, a place where nothing is green and there is no lake, just a huge, dried-up dust bowl where the "largest lake in Texas" used to be. There, Stanley meets five other children enjoying camp life by digging five-by-five foot holes daily.

The camp is complete with a counselor who further breaks down the kids' morale, an overseer by the name of Mr. Sir who lovingly threatens them daily, and the queen bee herself, the warden, who has ulterior motives other than to have the kids "build character" as they dig.

Photo by Sarah Conarro
  The warden (Mary Erickson) strikes a pose.
With a cast of 19 and crew of eight, the show splits into three stories at once-the present day moments at Camp Green Lake and the background of Stanley Yelnat's family curse, post and pre-Europe.

The stories twist and weave back into each other while introducing characters ranging from Stanley's great-great-grandfather Elya Yelnats and gypsy fortune teller Madame Zeroni to the ignorant, rich Trout Walker of Green Lake and the beautiful but feared Texas outlaw Kissin' Kate Barlow.

These characters along with the rest of the excellent supporting cast reveal a story hitting on heavy topics such as discrimination, the importance of friendship, the damage caused by cruelty, and fate through justice.

Though the show addresses such intense lessons of life, it also remains light-hearted and humorous-complete with poisonous nail polish and homeopathic onions. The jocular presentation was an appealing factor when choosing this play, according to director Shona Strauser.

"It deals with issues important to teenagers especially...but it's not in your face. It's pretty light and still serious," Strauser said.

This is Strauser's second production with JDHS, the first being "Reel to Real" performed in the spring of 2005. Disregarding the show's obvious success through direction, Strauser humbly gives credit to the adult support throughout the preparation for the show. "They are a pretty professional group of people. Bethany Bereman (producer) has set up a great drama department, Art Rotch (set/lighting designer) is pulling off working on this show as well as one at Perseverance Theatre, and Kristin Garot (stage manager) rocks at keeping everyone in order," Strauser said.

The adult support also includes a number of dedicated volunteers from the community. All involved, adults and students alike, really benefit from the collaborative effort that goes into creating a successful production. Of course the hope is that the experience extends outside of the finished product.

Chelsea Rothchild, a sophomore playing the role of Stanley's great great grandmother, validated this.

"Once the cast was posted, I didn't know very many people, but now we are all really tight, even with the crew. It's what happens when you spend so much time with one group of people," Rothchild said.

When asked what her favorite part of the play is, Mary Erickson, a junior performing for her first time at JDHS as the warden, said, "Opening night because I knew we'd worked hard and we rocked the performance."

With a great story and a talented cast of budding actors don't miss "Holes" this coming weekend at JDHS.

As the gypsy Madame Zeroni says to Stanley's great great grandfather, "If you forget to come back... you and your family will be cursed for always and eternity."