Franklin High has the opportunity to showcase its theatrical program on a major stage downtown

DAVID F. ASHTON - Comparing scenes in their upcoming production of Hamlet, in which they both portray Ophelia, are FHS student actors Lucy Walker and Natalie Perkins. The already-strong Franklin High School (FHS) Theater Department program is getting a boost from the upgraded school's new performing facilities this year.

"Our students are really excited and really happy that they now have a complete full-size stage, and they are overjoyed with the modern equipment that equips it," said FHS Theater Instructor Josh Forsyth, as he gave THE BEE a tour of their new Main Theater.

"Our previous performing spaces were built before much of modern theatrical technology was invented; we now have the full range of lighting systems, sound gear and a full-height 'fly' loft on the Main Stage. We also now have an additional, small 'Studio Theater' for more intimate performances, which provides spaces with full theatrical capabilities."

Forsythe added that he, himself, is enjoying learning the use of the new technical equipment, alongside the students in his Theater Tech classes.

While showing off the new theaters, the guest director, Jake Merriman from Portland Playhouse, was working with student actors. Now in his sixth year working with Quaker thespians, Merriman was helping them prepare for their first presentation in their new facility – as well as the citywide Shakespeare Festival downtown.

"This year, we're performing William Shakespeare's 'Hamlet' during the festival," Forsythe grinned. "Because were in a brand-new theater, we wanted to do a well-known Shakespearean play, and 'Hamlet" is one of the Bard's most popular works!"

When the play premieres on the evening of November 3, audiences will be treated to a production mounted by 75 students – with a cast of 40 actors and a technical crew of 35.

"After our run here at Franklin, our show will play as part of the 'Fall Festival of Shakespeare', held at the Porland5 Centers for the Arts," Forsythe said.

"Hamlet" debuts at 7:00 p.m. on November 3. The run continues on the evenings of November 4 and 5, and again on November 10 and 11. There's a special matinee performance on November 5th at 2:00 p.m. The tickets are available online at the Franklin High website, and also at the door; $10 for Adults, and $5 for Students/Seniors.

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