Senior takes first lead role

‘The Amish Project’ tells story of school shooting


Isaac Wahl

Estelle Tronson performs her monologue while in rehearsal for "The Amish Project" on Dec. 13. Tronson plays a school girl who only speaks in poetic verse.

Marta Hill

When senior Estelle Tronson first saw the cast list for the winter play, “The Amish Project,” she was surprised to find she had gotten a lead role.

“I was really excited, because it is a named role and that is super awesome and exciting for me,” Tronson said. “The only other time I have been part of the cast was last year for the winter one-act. I was the violinist, so I provided the music for the show while also kind of portraying a character.”

According to director Jodi Hatzenbeller, the winter play this year depicts a school shooting.

“It’s called “The Amish Project,” by Jessica Dickey, Hatzenbeller said. “It’s a newer play, written in 2013, about a school shooting in Pennsylvania at a tiny Amish school in 2006.”

Hatzenbeller said Tronson has taken on a lot of roles in theater throughout her high school career.

“Estelle has actually been with the theater program for years, and she has served a lot of other important roles, from being in the pit orchestra to being in the technical crew,” Hatzenbeller said. “Last year she was featured in our competition one-act. It was a very interesting role for her to play because, even though she didn’t speak through her voice, she spoke through her violin.”

Hatzenbeller said Tronson is playing a character who will not be alive for the majority of the play.

“Estelle plays one of the students who was a victim of the shooting. Her character is sort of speaking posthumously to her family,” Hatzenbeller said.

According to Hatzenbeller, Tronson needs to make the audience feel a wide range of emotions.

“It is a very powerful piece. Most of (Estelle’s) lines are long poetic monologues, where she has to connect with the audience and make sure we feel the somber nature of the piece, but also her character provides some hope, and some closure as well,” Hatzenbeller said.

According to Tronson, she is looking forward to becoming closer with the cast and crew.

“I am really excited to get to meet new people. The theater group is people I know, but not people I necessarily have had a chance to hang out with,” Tronson said. “I am excited to act and share the story that this show has.”

Hatzenbeller said seniors should try new things because it is the last time to experience them in high school.

“(Senior year) is a great opportunity to take chances and broaden your horizons,” Hatzenbeller said. “It’s time to get one new experience before you are done at this school.”

Tronson said she wishes she had a lead role earlier in high school, but is glad she kept auditioning and thinks others should do the same.

“It would have been nice to get a speaking role earlier in high school, but this is nice too. I will take what I can get,” Tronson said. “I think people shouldn’t get discouraged if they don’t get a role they want, you just have to keep trying.”

According to Tronson, “The Amish Project” is a very dark story, but she is excited to share it with the audience nonetheless.

“This show is really depressing, but it’s such an important topic so I think that it will be good to be able to share that with the audience,” Tronson said.

Performances for “The Amish Project” will be 7 p.m. Jan. 18-19 and 2 p.m. Jan. 20 in the Auditorium.