2013 STATE and ITF One Act - "The Zoo Story"

We decided to bring a show to the MO State Thespian Conference again this year and so we kept it simple (as if we ever keep things simple). This time we would bring the amazing one act play The Zoo Story by the great American playwright Edward Albee.

To View a Promotional video for the show
please click on the following link:

We gave the show three performances for 7th hour English classes and two evening perfomances for the public Jan 8th and Jan 9th.

We went to State Conference in Jan right after, and we were honored with the "Chapter Select" award and we are invited to take the show to Nationals in June. The cast and crew are very excited to be able to do the show again for their fellow thespians.

One afternoon in the park can change your life forever...

Peter is approached by Jerry in Central Park on a sunny afternoon...to "talk"

This has been an amazing journey for the production staff and cast. The play is very cool in that it represents a period in theater history when play structure was being questioned and the culture of America was going through a major ideological change.

Check out a montage of the show by following the link below:


Nathan Eswine as Jerry                Spencer Milford as Peter


Two men meet in a park. One is there to take a break from the world and read. Peter looks to find peace and solice in the park, alone, isolated from what he has convinced himself is a perfect life. Jerry is the stranger, the visitor, and the catalyst to the play's action. Jerry just wants to talk.

This play is a perfect 50 minutes and marks Albee's first successful attempt at being a commercial playwright. It gives us a sense of what is to come from Albee as a playwright.


       This is a picture of Edward Albee in 1962 fours years after writing Zoo and after he had just finished Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolff his first major success with a full length play.

Inspired by the two playwrights Inonesco and Beckett, Albee writes The Zoo Story to teach us about what it is to live in the "modern" world, or modernist world. In an era of postwar and industry, the country was struggling to find identity and purpose that had foundation and truth. The 50's were coming to an end and some were left in the dust when it came to opportunity and the so called "American Dream". Albee suggests that it has more to do with who you come from and less with what you do.

A true gem of a script. It has so much packed into it, and the analysis will continue beyond our production. Lots of critics agree that the play has multiple available intrpretations, but they all seem to agree that it deals with the ideas of existentialism, religion and the dehumanization of the American male figure going into the 1960's in America.

A painting by Richard Lever of Central Park West

This play carries with it a divide of absurdity and reality that is truly fascinating. The characters take you on a ride that doesn't rely on order or logic. You are told not to react, but instead, as Jerry puts it,  just "listen".

Even today over 50 years after this play first hit the stage, it still seems to retain its social and cultural relevance. What makes us honorable and what makes us retain a sense of worth? Are we free? Do we truly want freedom? Are we the zoo, the keeper, or the animal in the zoo?

"Tell me what is the difference between the upper middle class and the upper-upper middle class?" - Jerry

The divide in the classes and the economic uphevel felt in this country in the last decade, through the last several major elections and throughout the last several wars makes Albee's poinant words and allegory fly off the page like this play was written for us just yesterday.

Like an absurdist's therapy session,
Albee makes Jerry play both patient and doctor to Peter. 


We have once again taken the opportunity do an intimate staging of a play in the auditorium by doing it in a blackbox setting. The set and the audience are both on the stage and we only arrange for around 50 people to be in attendance each performance.

This is the fourth show we have done this way and the audiences love it. They get to be incredibly close to the action, the actors and this play feeds on the proximity of that energy from the crowd.


We took several new opportunities to promote this play than we had with the past blackbox shows. We built a make-shift box office outside of the stage left stairwell to help get buzz going and to provide a formal entrance to the house for the run of the show. It worked great!

We also have claimed one of the display cases in the main hallway to use for the Drama Dept this year and it has proven to help get the word out as well. Mr. Schaefer 1st semester student assistant Lexi Albretch set up the display and it looked great! It was another way to get the cast headshots in the face of the student body.
We also set out several signs outside in front of the school at all of the main entrances to help keep the show on everyone's minds. These were very effective and kept the buzz going into the run. We will most likely use these for all of our upcoming productions to help with advertising. It also allows for another opportunity to design.
The first poster design was completed
by Nathan Eswine and Mr. Schaefer

We had a amazing time at the State Conference and the audience at a thespian conference is one of the most critical and the most excitable. It's an amazing opportunity to have stage time in front of that crowd.
We decided to perform the show for the public for two nights and several daytime in-class performances on campus first. Then we took it the following week to conference and performed on a very simple stage at the St Louis Convention Center for one more public performance in front of 300 students. The cast was amazing and the humor of the show really came through. Every joke landed and the ending even had more impact.
We received the honor of representing MO at Nationals 
The ITF Convention was held June 24th-30th in Lincoln, NE and we were given the Sat 2:00pm June 29th slot in the Howell Theater.
Since we had time before we had to perform it again the show went on hiatus for several months. The department tackled the Spring Play and then we brought the two cast members back into rehearsals once again.

Nathan and Spencer in a dress rehearsal in the Little Theater

 We were lucky to have a couple of summer school classes, family and some friends come in to watch a final dress so we knew the lines were back. The confidence returned and the show was back and even better than before.

The two actors had time to reflect a bit on the characters and the story and when they came back into the project it had evolved.

The story got more energized and they actually shaved some time off the run too! 
Then we packed up our stuff for the show headed off to Lincoln, NE with several other Thespians in the Department. We had a total of seven student attend the ITF conference this year.
It takes about 7 hours to get to Lincoln, NE

The good thing is that the play only requires two park benches, the two costumes, and some very small props. The travel planning was easy...for the most part. The students raised some money to help pay for the expenses of the trip, but ultimately the trip was covered by each student individually.

Once we got to the conference we immediately felt the energy of the event and couldn't wait to share our production with the other thespians who were in attendance. Some of the other shows we got to see were amazing.

The cast and the other WG drama kids spent the week walking around and talking up our show to make sur we had an audience. There are a lot of things happening at once at ITF and the students have lots of options for how they want to spend the day.  Our work paid off. Between some posters and word of mouth (some serious schmoozing) we had a great house!

We finally performed the last day!

The Little Show That Could!
Our poster on the front doors
of the Howell Theater
on the Campus
of the University of Lincoln, NE


Curtain call at nationals!!!

"The energy and connection the actors made in that performance was like nothing I have ever seen from high school actors. I have seen a lot of Broadway plays, and this was by far an equal."
-an adult patron after the show

Nathan and Spencer after the show in the Lobby of the Johnny Carson Studio Theater
 This was an amazing opportunity for everyone involved and we are so fortunate to have the chance to participate in events like this and our State Conference. The logistics and planning for activities like these takes effort and courage and the outcome is always worth it in the end.

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