STE takes Sanderson to State Theatre Conference



Sanderson’s Theatre Ensemble is taking “Ernest and the Pale Moon” to NCTC this weekend.

 Just in time for Halloween, Sanderson’s Advanced Theatre Ensemble is taking a haunting production of Ernest and the Pale Moon to the North Carolina Theatre Conference this weekend. As a precursor to the regional competition at Catawba College, the group performed the show October 29 and 30 for the Sanderson community, just two weeks after their production of David and Lisa took the SHS stage.

  Inspired by the likes of Edgar Allen Poe and Alfred Hitchcock, Ernest and the Pale Moon was written first as a short story by Oliver Lansley. The play itself features two lead roles, Ernest Hemel and Gwendolyn Bertram, portrayed by Sanderson students Camden Trimmer and Lissa Pope, respectively. The dynamic performance includes 23 STE cast members and 9 members of the crew.  

  Theatre teacher and director Peter Comperatore says he witnessed the chilling play at NCTC in 2015, and “just had to do it.” Five years later, STE is taking Ernest to the conference themselves.    

  Sanderson will be one of the 16 high school theatre groups to showcase their talents this weekend. For the statewide theatre competition, plays must consist of one act executed within a 45-minute window. This includes both setting up and taking down the set. In this timeframe, STE members paint a vivid picture of a troubled young man, his fascination with a pale young woman, and the frightening events that ensue. Obsession, irony, and murder are at the center of this production, and the cast and crew employ lights, sounds, and symbols to construct a haunting and constantly-moving set.     

  This one-act play is unique in that most of the sounds of the show are created by its cast. Violinists Sarah Bedini, Allison Moreau, and Joan Wagner are present throughout the play, aiding characters in counting and building suspense. Knocking on doors, tell-tale “tick, tocking,” and scratching are all cast-created sounds. The perceived lack of outside sound is a characteristic of NCTC plays because of the short timeframe available for performance.  

  STE member Xander Barnes, an ensemble member for Ernest and the Pale Moon, says he is excited to participate in NCTC this year. He says that this play is fun to perform and his favorite part of this show is “working special effects and seeing the technical stuff come to life.” Barnes notes that he is particularly looking forward to the conference itself because “it’s going to be really fun and I’m going to learn about theatre in North Carolina and our area.” 

  STE’s tech crew is incredibly important for this show as well because they aid in the amplification and creation of sound and keep the piece moving quickly by facilitating the shifting set.  

  Not only with STE be performing at the Conference, they will also be able to experience performances from fifteen other North Carolina schools. Comperatore notes that he is excited for the group to “receive feedback and have the chance to see other shows.” Throughout the weekend, Ensemble members will also have access to various sessions regarding theatre methods and professional experience. 

    STE is a frequent finalist at the North Carolina Theatre Conference. Just last year, their rendition of 26 Pebbles won the State competition and advanced to the national level. 

  STE’s rendition of Ernest and the Pale Moon will be presented at the North Carolina Theatre Conference this weekend, and the group anticipates positive results.