Making ‘Sense’

Freshmen see play in conjunction with Jane Austen book

Staff Writer

The freshmen of Haas Hall Academy’s Fayetteville, Springdale and Bentonville campuses came together on Oct. 17 for a trip to Luther George Park and to watch a play. The play was an adaptation of Jane Austen’s “Sense and Sensibility” put on by the Arts Center of the Ozarks (ACO) in Springdale. 

The scholars are currently reading “Sense and Sensibility” as part of the freshman curriculum, which has replaced their reading of “Great Expectations.” This switch in reading material occurred because of the opportunity to see the play. 

“I really liked the play,” Bentonville freshman Melanie Burchit said. “I love seeing plays that take place a while back so it makes you think more about how things used to be and how people used to interact with each other.” 

“I thought it was a really smart adaptation of a really great book,” Fayetteville English teacher Jennifer Ombres said. 

The local nature of the play allowed for a cast of all-regional, non-professional actors. The small cast and budget gave rise to creative approaches such as hand puppets for some characters and rolling chairs for smooth entrances and exits from the stage. 

“The actors were able to deal with any problems that arose with their creativity and their level of professionalism,” Fayetteville freshman Lily DeSpain said.  

When Kathleen Trotter, the art director of ACO, introduced the play, she mentioned opportunities for high school students to get involved. For one, they can attend plays and the art gallery in ACO. Students can also act or work backstage in some of the plays. 

At the time of attendance, most scholars had only read the beginning of the novel, which initially caused hesitation among the teachers.

“It really worked out because most of the students say they were confused about the language of the book and that the play is better helping them understand what they’re reading,” Ombres said. 

“I like to know a little context before I read anything because I want to be sure that I understand everything I read,” Burchit said. 

Haas Hall Academy Fayetteville freshmen, from left, Kessler Cluck, Emma Busteed, Kenna Dunahoo and Delaney Norton look at art on the wall of the Arts Center of the Ozarks during the intermission of a performance of “Sense and Sensibility.” Freshmen from three Haas Hall campuses attended the play on Oct. 17.