WHS leading lady shines in Shakespeare production
Date: Tuesday, November 02, 2010
By Judy Truesdell
She’s that dreamy combination of talented actress and excellent student that makes her teachers wish they could run her through a Xerox machine.
Not possible. Madilynn Garcia is one of a kind.
She’ll play the role of Hippolita, the Queen of the Amazons, in WHS theater’s upcoming production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” and she’s president of Wylie’s chapter of the International Thespian Society. A glance at her resume shows plenty of starring roles but also set design and costume construction; she’s willing to be behind the scenes, providing support.
But she’s most comfortable front and center. “All the world is my stage, so I’ve been here for 17 years,” she said.
Madilynn played the part of Charlotte in “Charlotte’s Web” and Teacher 1 in “Competition Piece” at Wylie East prior to making the jump to Wylie High School. There, she’s played Franny in “Emma’s Child,” Cassie in “Laughing Stock,” Rose in “Dancing at Lughnasa,” Mrs. Vanhuusen in “Dinner at Eight, Dead by Nine,” Marie in “Is He Dead?”, Maggie in “Bamboozle at Bernard’s Bistro.”
She also played the role of Wylie High School Girl in the recent student production for the Texas Association of School Boards and Texas Association of School Administrators joint conference in San Antonio. Although there were 5,000 people in the audience, she said it was a great experience. “It was by far the biggest audience I had ever performed for, but I’ve never felt so comfortable. It was perfect.”
She was vice president of Thespians her junior year and was named to the All Star Cast at UIL One-Act Play competition. She’s Theatre President at WHS, a National Honor Thespian, member of the Academic Decathlon, takes multiple AP classes, and she’s in her second year to research and create a project as part of the Texas Performance Standards Project program.
Brendan Kelley, theater teacher at WHS, said she’s been a joy to teach. “I am so impressed with Madilynn. She has a big heart; her TPSP project culminated in a workshop she gave to teachers and administrators about teaching to children who had survived trauma. She is driven, taking on theater, academic decathlon, duet interpretation competition, and other responsibilities.
“In the theater program, I have come to rely on her almost as an assistant. She wants to be a theater director when she grows up. I wouldn’t be surprised if she ends up running a school.”
She said the upcoming production of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” promises to be one of her favorites. “We’ve taken the classic play and set it in New York in the 1980s,” she said. “I love Shakespeare, because he was an actor himself and helped us all out by making his text ‘actor proof.’ The biggest challenge is really in making decisions for the audience. If we just got up there and recited lines, no one would understand. Instead, we chose the important parts and really explain it in a way that makes sense. Though difficult at times, it is the most enjoyable show I’ve ever been a part of.”
Madilynn recently placed at the Princeton speech and debate tournament. “I had actually never done anything speech or debate related before at all! I mentioned to [debate coach] Mr. [Travis] Hiltbrunner that I might look at the possibility of doing a duet scene, and the next thing I knew, I was on a bus at 6 a.m. to go to Princeton. Andrew Harris and I advanced to the final round of duo interp and won sixth place.”
Hiltbrunner said he was glad she went along. “The debate team has certainly enjoyed Madilynn Garcia’s energy and enthusiasm!” he said. “She brings a relentless spirit to our squad that the typical ‘debater’ does not have. Madilynn competes in duo interpretation on our team; this is one of the most exciting, albeit difficult, events to master in the Forensics League; however, she is an absolute natural. If only we had about 10 more of her!”
Madilynn said she “can’t imagine not impacting students through performing arts” and would like to go to “any college with an awesome theater program” and eventually teach at the high school level.
Regarding Kelley’s comment that Madilynn is “indispensible” to him and TPSP teacher Susan Fajardo, she said “I have made myself the ‘do all’ for Mrs. Fajardo and Mr. Kelley for the past couple of years. There’s way too much going on for them to make every call, every copy, run every errand, and answer every question, so I do what I can.”
Madilynn said that her teachers at Wylie HS, whom she describes as “awesome,” have impacted her positively. “They have one of the most important jobs, and they are not thanked nearly enough,” she said.
“Mr. Kelley, my theater director of three years, has taught me about more than theater. He is currently serving as my TPSP mentor, even though he’s been my mentor for much longer.
“Mrs. Fajardo is too wonderful for words, and I hope I get to be like her one day. Mrs. [Sheely] House is completely responsible for my love of history. And Mrs. [Reanel] Merriman, whose skill for story telling and infinite patience have gotten me through math.”
Madilynn is the daughter of Jean Williams and has one sister, Mikayla, 12, who is in the seventh grade at McMillan Junior High. “She’s the greatest sister I could ever ask for,” Madilynn said.
For this year’s TPSP project, Madilynn’s studying theater and looking into how playwrights use their work to speak to issues that impact society. “The second semester, for my product, I look forward to directing a scene showcase focused around one central issue. Because of the current economic crisis, the showcase will focus on poverty in America and its impact at a local level. For the showcase, admission will be canned food items that will be donated to a local organization.”
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