Home Arts U-32 Theater Department Receives Acclaim for Original Play

U-32 Theater Department Receives Acclaim for Original Play

From left, actors Aliza Azarian, Ari Chapin, and Avery Cocheran perform “Unspoken Word,” an original play created by Stage 32. Photo by Erin Galligan-Baldwin.
By Erin Galligan-Baldwin

Stage 32, U-32 High School’s theater department, recently celebrated its original play, “Unspoken Word,” earning a coveted spot at the New England Theater Festival following a successful run at the Vermont State One Act Play Festival. 

Alongside members of the Bellows Free Academy – St. Albans theater department, U-32 represented Vermont at the prestigious festival held from April 18 to April 20 at Attleboro High School in Massachusetts. Schools from across New England gathered at this event to celebrate the exceptional achievements of these students in bringing their theater productions to life.

“Unspoken Word” intricately weaves the story of Piper, a tenth-grade student dealing with selective mutism, bullying, and the aftermath of her parents’ divorce, with that of Maria Sybilla Merian, a 17th-century pioneering scientist and illustrator who was the first to observe and document metamorphosis. The play’s blend of contemporary issues facing today’s students, along with historical and scientific elements, resonated deeply with audiences and judges alike.

The creation of “Unspoken Word” was a collaborative effort spearheaded by theater director and playwright Erin Galligan-Baldwin, who worked closely with high school junior Calister Boyd and other members of Stage 32 to develop and write the script. Piper eventually finds her voice through poetry, and to help illustrate this “metamorphosis,” original poetry was contributed by Nadia Gongloff-Doolittle, Ace LaFountain, Mayla Landis-Marinello, Evelyn Rocha, and Ella Thomas. Additionally, students created original video projections, costumes, set and prop design, lighting, sound, and scenic painting, under the guidance of tech director David Sanguinetti and costume designer Amy Papineau.

The process of writing “Unspoken Word” showcased student leadership, collaboration, and the integration of arts in education. The play’s development relied heavily on the artistic process of feedback and revision, making it a truly collaborative, project-based learning experience. The Stage 32 cast and crew were thrilled to share their production with a broader audience and connect with fellow theater artists from schools across the Northeast.

On Friday, May 3, the cast and crew of Stage 32 were recognized at the Vermont Statehouse before the legislature in a resolution sponsored by Rep. Ela Chapin of East Montpelier, Rep. Anne Donahue of Northfield, Rep. Kenneth Goslant of Northfield, Rep. Saudia LaMont of Northfield, Rep. Marc Mihaly of Calais, and Rep. Avram Patt of Worcester.

Erin Galligan-Baldwin is the U-32 director of theater.