This year’s Yankton High School (YHS) one-act play offers a fresh twist on an ancient tale about what you can and can’t take with you when you go.
The play “Everyman” is a morality play from the Middle Ages. The character “Everyman” represents the average person, and good and bad — and everything in between — are personified in the play’s characters. Everyman’s journey in the play is meant to make us think about our own life journey.
“It’s a play that was put on by the church to send out the word about how you can’t take anything with you when you die, but your good deeds,” said senior Cody Crisman, who plays the protagonist, Everyman. “You can’t take your family; you can’t take your friends; you can’t take your beauty, strength or your wits when you die. You can take your good deeds — and if you have bad deeds, those also go with you.”
Make no mistake, the play’s message is serious.
“It’s something that you should apply to your own life and how you should live your life,” said Claire Kouri, who plays death, fellowship, worldly goods, confession and the angel. “Take the moral that it presents.”
Though the play is from the Middle Ages, the YHS production is set in a gritty, present-day urban alley — a location that a modern audience can relate to in terms of a moral struggle.
“It is not something that most high schools would tackle with the challenging themes,” said YHS senior Reagan Kolberg, who plays God at the beginning of the play and Everyman’s Knowledge at the end. “I would say, come with an open mind, because I think what we’ve done is very impressive.”
The play’s director Keith Goeden, a social studies teacher at Yankton High School, wants the young actors performing in the play to understand it and make it their own.
“I have given a lot of ownership to the kids, so we have rewritten a lot of it, and transported it into more modern language and feel,” Goeden said. “It’s not a ‘ha-ha funny’ show, but I think we’ve got lots of wonderful moments of humor and I think we’ve got some really nice visual images that are really pretty, really stunning and really interesting. Every kid in the show has stepped up and taken ownership of their parts.”
Assistant Director Pam Kallis, who is also in charge of costumes decided that, in contrast to the modern setting of the play, the costumes would be more timeless.
“All the kids, except for Everyman, are in black and all kinds of tunics, which we dyed in (different) colors,” said Kallis. “I looked at some of the woodcuts originally done (of the play), and thought, these are pretty timeless and simple.”
Depending on the role the student is playing, there are other pieces added on top of the costume for effect. For example, “Fellowship” wear SDSU gear; “Kindred” wear ugly Christmas sweaters and “Worldly Goods” wear fur coats and sparkly sunglasses.
“So even though we were doing an ancient play, putting these fresh twists on it we had a great deal of fun with it and I think audiences will enjoy it,” Goeden said.
“Everyman” will be performed for the public at 7 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 29, at the Yankton High School Theater, and there will be a Wednesday performance for the student body before the play heads to Aberdeen Thursday for the state festival.
A final performance will be given Feb. 4 at 8:00 p.m. at the YHS Theater as part of the YHS Evening of the Arts.
The cast includes: Michael Bender, Brett Busskohl, Sara Carr, Cody Crisman, Jadyn Cooke, Hailee Gilbery, Brock Hawkins, Joe Hebda, Walker Hunhoff, Jackie Holman, Kiah Holmstrom, Abigail Huff, Cassidy Johnson, Zayne King, Reagan Kolberg, Emily Kolker, Cecilia Kouri, Claire Kouri, Maluil Maluil (Wednesday only), Zoie Lee Marcotte, Erin McCarthy, Bailey Nielsen, Katie Neuhaus, Jaden Pearson, Isabella Purzol, Chloe Roberts, Weston Schwartz, Austin Solberg, Grace Taggart, Sophia Vyborny, Tori Weiland