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Paul W. Bryant Drama Department Performs Drama About Salem Witch Trials

Zoe Jones and Erin Murphy in PWBHS Play COTTONDALE, Ala.— The infamous Salem witch trials, which took place during the 1690s, come to life on stage as the Paul W. Bryant High School Theatre Department presents, “A Voice in the Dark: A Salem Story,” at 7 p.m., Nov. 17 and 18, and during an in-school performance on Thursday, Dec. 1.

            The play tells the story of a family, which finds itself on trial and accused of being witches after they refuse to bend to the will of a local landowner, according to Melissa Bailey, drama and dance teacher at Bryant High.

            Unlike the comedy musicals that the Bryant Theatre Department has produced in the past, Bailey decided to go in a different this semester.

            “I really wanted to challenge, not only the students, but myself with a historical drama,” Bailey said. “I liked the idea of a show surrounding the Salem witch trials, because of its curriculum crossovers in English language arts and social studies.”

            “This show is very dramatic,” said Zoe Jones, a Bryant sophomore and member of the cast. “Even in the curtain call, when you walk away, you don’t wave to the audience. You have to stay serious and keep the mood.”           

            Bailey said the change from producing comedies to dramas is also intended to help the school as it makes the transition to becoming Tuscaloosa’s fine arts high school. As part of the Tuscaloosa City School’s strategic plan, Bryant High School will be renovated to provide for additional fine arts classes. Bailey said plans call for renovations to current fine arts classrooms, and the construction of an additional fine arts hallway with a small box theater.

            Bailey said she is thrilled about the school’s future.

            “The school will be offering professional level training to students who might not otherwise have a chance to receive it,” Bailey said. “This training will allow students to pursue their career goals, and open scholarship opportunities to continue their arts education.”

            Jones is also excited about the change to a fine arts school, and looks forward to the future productions that her teacher has planned.

            “I think it will provide opportunities for people who haven’t been involved in the arts in the past, and the people who have always been involved,” Jones said. “I think that will just advance our arts experience.”

            Bailey said the Tuscaloosa City Schools Board of Education is still working on the details of transforming Bryant into the city’s fine arts high school. Information about the transition and the application process for all interested students will be distributed in early 2017.

S. Dorrill