What Could Teenagers Possibly Know About Love?

Almost Maine Cast

Photo by Jason Ruperts

Almost Maine Cast

Hannah Nelson, Staff Writer

On February 13-15 at 7 pm the Production and Performance class at CHHS performed the play Almost, Maine by John Cariani. The play is composed of eight individual scenes (and a prologue, ideologue, and epilogue), each of which stands alone and takes place within the fictional unincorporated territory known as “Almost” in Northern Maine.

Each scene has something to do with love, whether it is two people finding each other for the first time, best friends realizing they’re in love, a married couple trying to look for the spark they lost, or someone attempting to reclaim a love that they are too late for. These seem like topics out of reach of the experience of most high school students, requiring them to portray emotions they may never have felt. However, according to research recently compiled by NPR, Almost, Maine is currently the full-length play most produced by high school theatre groups. This is not even the first time that the show has been performed on our own stage here at CHHS.

So why the appeal? One explanation is that it is simply a good play. The realistic characters placed in realistic situations with fantastical circumstances have the ability to draw audiences in, along with the “almost” endings of many of the scenes. The show is also easy to produce on the high school stage: it can be accomplished with minimalistic sets and can be done with either a small or medium-sized cast. For many practical reasons, it seems to be a good choice for a high school to perform. 

It’s more than that though. According to CHHS’s director, Kerry Rupe, her students always act well when performing these scenes. “It’s real, raw acting.” For this reason, she often assigns scenes from the show for her theatre classes each year. But how could this be? If the show requires actors to portray all these situations that high school students haven’t experienced themselves, how could that bring out some of their best acting?

The scene I perform is about a near break-up. My character has been with the same person for eleven years and believes that he doesn’t want to marry her, so she decides to end things. It turns out she was wrong, and at the end of the scene the couple finds themselves engaged. I obviously have never been in a situation like this. At only seventeen years of age, it’s hard to imagine the frustration of being with someone for eleven years and feeling like it’s for nothing. However, I have experienced frustration with the people in my life, and the spontaneous decisions that can come out of that. And I think that that’s where Almost, Maine comes alive for high school students, and for audiences. There is at least one moment or feeling in every scene that a high school student or an audience member can relate to. And that’s where the real storytelling takes place; it’s about a moment that multiple people can understand at the same time. Despite students having limited experience with love, that at least is something they can accomplish.