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Brighton High Makes Use of Special Effects to Perform “The Giver”

Apr 07, 2016 11:35AM ● Published by Bryan Scott

By Kelly Cannon | kelly@mycityjournals.com

Cottonwood - Holladay - Brighton High School’s theater department used a series of special effects in their performance of “The Giver.” The play, which ran through the end of February, is based on the best-selling book by Lois Lowry.

“It’s sophisticated enough for high school students to get behind but it’s also understandable,” said Mindy Curtis, the drama teacher at Brighton High and the director of the play. “Most people have read the book.”

“The Giver” tells the story of Jonas, a young boy who lives in a dystopian community who is chosen to be the Receiver of all of the memories of the past world. The community has removed all forms of emotion and is obsessed with sameness and following the rules. This has led to the entire community unable to see in color. As Jonas receives more and more memories from the Giver, he sees more color and realizes the problems with his community. 

Curtis explained the most difficult part of the production was figuring out the special effects. She wanted them to be simple but effective. These effects include special color lighting that becomes more intense as Jonas progresses through the story and the use of a thin backdrop and backlight to convey the memories being given. 

“That’s the magic of the show,” Curtis said. “It’s not just face value.”

Jack Koncar is a senior at Brighton and was the head tech for the production. He designed the set and the lighting. Koncar explained he was in Idaho over the summer and saw some crazy shelving at a house and he knew he wanted to incorporate it into a production. 

“I wanted to give the set color as the play gives the characters colors,” Koncar said. 

It was also these very same lights that caused Koncar the most difficulty since they were prone to not working. 

“It’s going to be the death of me,” he said. 

Tristan Grant, a 17-year-old junior, played the lead, Jonas, which was his first leading role. Grant described Jonas as someone who sees the world differently but never questions it or understands why it is the way it is. 

Grant said he enjoyed working on the play because it’s a lot closer to film acting.

“I want to be a filmmaker and this acting is a lot closer to film acting than an average play,” Grant said.

The most difficult part of the production was the fact that Grant is on stage nearly the entire time.

“I never had the opportunity to step back,” Grant said. “I’m always in character.”

Fifteen-year-old Zoë Smith played the role of Asher, Jonas’ best friend. Like many other actors in the play, Smith played the part of a boy even though she’s a girl. Curtis explained this was not to make any statement or cause controversy, but simply because there were not enough boys to fill all of the roles.

Smith said the hardest part of portraying Asher is his use of imprecise language. 

“Asher is very illiterate and doesn’t use very precise language,” Smith said. “I had to learn how to speak incorrectly.”

Smith’s favorite part of the production was the set, which she described as beautiful.

“Everything goes from gray to color,” she said.  

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