By Curt Yeomans
It took Sydney Partee a few minutes to understand the bell, but she eventually realized why it was being rung every few seconds.
Partee, 15, a sophomore at Clayton County Public Schools' Fine Arts Magnet High School, and 79 of her classmates watched Clayton State University theater students, Kalani Fraser and Bryan Meadows, perform playwright David Ives' one-act play, "Sure Thing," at the Clayton County Public Schools Performing Arts Center on Wednesday.
The play depicts two people meeting and interacting, with several re-starts at various points, until the two individuals end up planning a date with each other.
"I didn't understand it at first, but once I realized the bell ringing represented a do-over, it made it easier for me to understand what was going on," Partee said.
Wednesday's performance was the first public performance of Clayton State's Clayton Tour Team, which has been formed by Fraser, Meadows and fellow theater students, Tiffany McClanahan and Tierra Canup, to promote the Clayton State Theater group by performing at local high schools.
"We just felt it was time," Meadows said. "We're getting off to a great start with the theater program, and we felt it was the right time to encourage other people to become involved in Clayton State Theater."
As a starting point, the group began with students at the fine arts magnet school because it is the only public school in Clayton County that has a theater program, said Kathy Baker, Clayton County Public Schools' lead theater teacher.
But, the Clayton Tour Team members are not planning to stop with the students at one fine arts school, that happens to be in Clayton State's back yard. "Ideally, it would be all across the Southern Crescent, but we're just starting here for now," Fraser said. "Then, we're going to see how it grows."
Clayton State Theater Director Phillip DePoy added, "We'll go anywhere ... We'll go to your home, and perform in your living room, if you can get three high school students to show up."
Baker said the Clayton Tour Team is important, particularly for high school students who are studying theater, because of the exposure the pupils get to a local college theater program. "It lets them see Clayton State does have a theater program that they need to be aware of, because it's something that's available to them right here in Clayton County," she said.
The Clayton Tour Team went to the fine arts magnet school on Wednesday, performed the one-act play, and then got some of the students involved in an improvisation game that was a mix between acting and "Mad Libs." Between activities, DePoy talked to the students about the types of plays the Clayton State Theater stages.
"I think the experience was wonderful," said Malani Mitchell, 15, a freshman at the fine arts magnet school. "I like how the director explained what was going on ... I would be interested in going to Clayton State now, to study theater."
Classmate Myracle Harmon added, "It got me to see a different side of theater -- a disorganized side of it. It was a good experience, in my opinion."