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Pittsfield High drama club to present student-directed production of Peter Tarsi’s “Tracks”

Pittsfield High School

Pittsfield High School theatre group Proteus is presenting a student-directed production of “Tracks” this weekend.

The show represents a return to form for the young thespians after the past two years of COVID-19 disrupting their high school experience.

“Well, we're obviously coming back from the pandemic, which is kind of hard," said senior Alexa Hill, the president of Proteus. “For a while we couldn’t put on plays or musicals or any of the fun stuff that we've been doing before. Last spring, we came back with our first in-person show, ‘Into The Woods.’ It was tons of fun. Lots of people came out to see it. And it was a really good refresh, restart to our program.”

“Tracks” is a 40-minute one act play written by Peter Tarsi and originally published in 2008.

“A bunch of strangers find themselves in a subway station, and after talking about themselves, they come to the realization that they are all dead, and that the next train on the subway station will lead them to their afterlife. And so they're all debating the morality of their actions and whether they deserve to go to heaven or hell," said senior Ethan Callahan, who is directing. “I was really drawn to it, because the writing, I found, was really beautiful because it wasn't, like, blunt, but it was still very much reflective about society. And I think that since this is a school setting and that this is a place where we can learn about ourselves, I think that having young actors starting to question questions about life is a really good learning experience. And I found that ‘Tracks’ specifically was a good medium to explore yourself while still doing something meaningful and can give a strong impression to anyone in the audience.”

It’s Callahan’s directorial debut.

“At first I was scared, because it's kind of difficult to be able to lead and mentor a bunch of people who are the same age as you, and especially, because as someone who's an actor, and then trying to lead someone not as an actor, but rather as a director and someone who has more creative control," they told WAMC. "So at first I felt that I was kind of stumbling along, but then after, I started to get the hang of it. And then I saw as my actors started to make progress every time I gave them notes or directions and every time we did a scene again, when I saw them truly improve- I think, with that, I really realized that I was able to direct and use my thoughts and actually help other people and actually shaped this show to be something full and new and creative and fun.”

Callahan says the artistic challenge has been part of an ongoing rehabilitation following the pandemic, which made theater-going unsafe for a time.

“The pandemic hit me really hard creatively," said the student director. "And I kind of was in a rut when it came to plays and theater and those kinds of things. I lacked motivation. It was like scary to go out and be with a bunch of people, even if it was something you liked. And so I think that everyone just kind of coming together and being able to kind of shake off those bad feelings and kind of instead channel them into artistic bad feelings, if that makes sense, and just kind of create art with them and put out an excellent show and use those emotions and kind of escape instead of worrying about this this dreary, dreary life that has come from the pandemic and instead be able to create.”

Proteus’s production of Peter Tarsi’s ‘Tracks’ at Pittsfield High School will have three performances, Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2:30 p.m. For more information, click here.

Josh Landes has been WAMC's Berkshire Bureau Chief since February 2018, following stints at WBGO Newark and WFMU East Orange. A passionate advocate for Western Massachusetts, Landes was raised in Pittsfield and attended Hampshire College in Amherst, receiving his bachelor's in Ethnomusicology and Radio Production. His free time is spent with his cat Harry, experimental electronic music, and exploring the woods.
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