WeGo Drama makes headlines at State


Photo by IHSA

WeGo Drama’s tech crew accepts the first-place award for their small set design.

By Adan Villa, Editor

WeGo Drama took home multiple wins at the IHSA State final, held March 24-26 at Oak Lawn Community High School.

The program’s tech crew won first place for Technical Performance for the set design crafted for “EVERYBODY”, and seniors Philip Calabrese and Mikail Herrera took first for their student film “The Corner of Cypress and Rosemary”.

WeGo Drama performed their contest piece, “EVERYBODY”, a modern adaptation of Petrus Dorlandus’ “Everyman”, the oldest play recorded (written in the 15th century) on March 25. The crowd was cheerful before the performance began at 6:30 p.m., erupting with laughter and talking amongst each other. Once the lights dimmed, the crowd grew noticeably excited, and cheered on West Chicago. The award-winning tech crew set-up 2 brown and white staircases, each with 4 steps, and when the spotlights came on, the entire cast sat on the steps, except for senior Maggie Hancock, who stood at the center of the stage, narrating the origin of the show they were performing. 

The show followed Herrera, who played “Everybody”. Throughout the performance, Herrera attempted to find people to help him explain his life and the choices he made to “God”, played by Hancock, and “Death”, played by sophomore Ryley Salazar. The performance lasted 40 minutes, and was filled with laughter and cheers from the audience. 

Shortly thereafter, the tech crew had to strike down the steps set-up on the stage, which had been transported to the site via small truck. Safety was of the utmost importance, especially when hail struck during the loading process.

Seniors Maggie Hancock and Kai Herrera received All-State honors for their performances. (Photo by IHSA)

West Chicago Community High School’s tech crew is led by Technical Auditorium Director Christopher Jensen, and senior Liz Ryan oversees the group when he is not there. Other members of tech crew include senior Kathryn Wenberg, juniors Alysa Solomon and Sarah Larimer, sophomore Avery Moffatt, and freshmen Romina Pietanza and William Wenberg. The run crew involves seniors Esmeralda Hernandez and Jocelyn Mercado, juniors Kenya Bahena, Andrea Hernandez, Elizabeth Hurley and Vincent Ross, sophomores Carolyn Fleming and Baron Plumlee, and freshman Annaliesa Herbst.

“I was very surprised and excited when we won,” said Pietanza. “I have never been to State so it was a new and exciting experience for me. I’m really happy that we won because we worked really hard on the set!”

Four-year tech crew member Kathryn Wenberg said, “a small group can accomplish great things. We only had three, at times four, people working on the set for the most part, while also working on another set for the musical. We are a small group and getting this award shows that that hard work paid off.”

On March 26, WeGo Drama returned to Oak Lawn Community High School for the awards ceremony. There, West Chicago was declared the State champion for Technical Performance (a recognition last won in 2013). Herrera, Hancock and senior Jazmin Wilkins all received All-State awards for their performances.

For Ryan, the win arrives after nearly a decade working behind the scenes.

“I’ve been doing tech crew for about nine years now. I wanted to see another side of the theater world, and I fell in love with working behind the scenes,” said Ryan. 

Kathryn Wenberg said, “It’s a lot of hard work and heavy lifting, but that just makes it all the better. The people truly care for what it is that we are doing and that allows us to get more work done. Seeing the sets come together is such a rewarding experience. You spend all of this time building them and getting dirty, and seeing them with actors up there doing what they do is just amazing. Tech is the place where you can goof off, be yourself, and not be judged, while still making something beautiful and useful.”

This entire team worked incredibly hard to tell a story to make the audience think about the lives we live.  The brilliance of how they all worked together to communicate an incredible artful show was truly remarkable.  I am so fortunate to get to work with these amazing students,” said WeGo Drama Director and English teacher Mark Begovich.

Calabrese and Herrera’s short film centered around a group of teenagers who find themselves looking back at critical moments in their relationship after a friend commits suicide. The work featured Plumlee, Herbst, Salazar, Fleming, sophomore Mariana Acosta, and others, while the crew included seniors Hancock, Grace Miller, Vinny Lamantia, and Wilkins.

Prior to the State competition, WeGo Drama took first place at the IHSA sectional tournament, held at Sterling High School on March 19, where they performed both “EVERYBODY” and “GABRIEL: A Love Story”. 

That same week, WeGo Drama invited classes to view their two Sectional entries in the auditorium at West Chicago Community High School.

“GABRIEL: A Love Story” was a short interpretive piece set in the middle of the OxyContin epidemic, during which time doctors were recommending patients go on the highly addictive drug. The play follows a young boy named Gabriel, played by Calabrese, who would do anything to protect his little sister, Grace, played by Hancock. One day, Gabriel and Grace are out riding bikes when she is almost struck by an oncoming car – Gabriel is able to push her out of the way, which results in getting hit himself. During his time in the hospital, Gabriel is in a lot of pain, and the doctor recommends he go on OxyContin. What results is an on-again, off-again relationship with drugs that ultimately ends in tragedy.

Those who were able to attend the in-school performances thought they were “beautifully” done, and appreciated the message the performances promoted. 

“It’s sharing a story with as many people as possible who can change and help others for the better. The most important thing was how many people we can impact,” said Lamantia. 

The theater group began preparing for the show in January, under the direction of Begovich, and while they described the practices leading up to Sectionals and State as “emotionally draining,” the students also acknowledged they were “just used to it.”

IHSA is the Illinois High School Association is a non-profit organization which regulates the competitions and activities for more than 800 high schools in the state of Illinois.