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Drama students enter the home stretch for Scotland trip

Elmire (Margaret Starbuck) mediates between her husband Orgon (Travis Selph, right) and Orgon's son Damis (Matthew Fyhrie) in the Davis High School drama department's updated production of Moliere's classic "Tartuffe." The students will present four performances at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this summer in Scotland. While they're packing their costumes, they may need to pick up key set pieces, like a sofa, when they get to the festival. Fred Gladdis/Enterprise photo

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From page A10 | April 18, 2012 |

The drama students at Davis High can see the light at the end of the tunnel in their drive to raise nearly $150,000 for their summer trip to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland.

They will present their updated production of the classic Molière comedy “Tartuffe,” seen locally in March. The group leaves Davis on July 31 and returns Aug. 13, after giving four performances in Edinburgh.

Why pick this venerable French farce from 1664?

“We wanted to do a piece of dramatic literature that has stood the test of time,” said DHS drama teacher Gwyn Bruch, who will accompany the students.

“But we’re not setting it in Molière’s time. We’re setting it in San Francisco, in 1969″ — the height of the hippie era. The costumes will reflect some of the wild colors and distinctive styles of that time, when the staid American lifestyle epitomized by TV shows like “Father Knows Best” came in for quite a shakeup.

Of course, getting today’s high school students — born in the mid-1990s — in touch with the freewheeling, fast-changing social atmosphere of 1969 involved a bit of research and study, and maybe even a conversation with Grandma or Grandpa.

Transporting the show also will involve some preparation here in Davis, and some shopping once the group gets to Scotland.

“We’ll take our costumes, and we’ll probably take some of the props — things that are packable,” Bruch said. “But once we arrive, there will be several things we will either rent or buy. We will need several platforms. There are certain pieces of furniture that we simply have to have to do the show, like a sofa. Maybe we will get the sofa at Ikea, and then sell it after the final performance.”

Sets for the March production were designed by Ian Wallace, a graduate of Davis High who earned a master’s degree in theater design at The Tisch School of the Arts in New York. The design will be scaled down for traveling purposes.

Bruch said the idea of taking “Tartuffe” to Scotland originated with Dan Kryston, a theater colleague from San Francisco.

“It turns out that Dan nominated us,” Bruch said, “and then he died last year at age 59.”

Once Bruch found out that the trip was feasible, she took the idea to her student board.

“We don’t generally compete, and we don’t generally travel,” she said. But this trip was too much to resist. “This is something worth doing, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” she said.

Students have been fundraising at the Davis Farmers Market for months, and Bruch acknowledged “the generosity of parents and our community.” There is also an upcoming art auction, among other events.

The overall cost of the trip will be about $148,000, Bruch said, and the fundraising is within about $15,000 of that goal. Donations have come from supporters within Davis, but also from people farther afield.

“We got one donation from a Tony Award-winning actress who appeared at the Fringe Festival last summer,” Bruch said. “She heard about our kids going to the Fringe, and she decided to support us. It’s that kind of karma.”

Donations from the community are welcome. Checks should be made payable to Davis High School with the words “DHS Scotland Drama” on the memo line, and sent to DHS, 315 W. 14th St., Davis CA 95616.

— Reach Jeff Hudson at jhudson@davisenterprise.net or (530) 747-8055.

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