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Pittsfield High School's Proteus Theatre is producing a talent show organized, directed and performed by students on Wednesday, Dec. 7.

PHS Students 'Showcase' Who They Are in Talent Show

By Sabrina DammsiBerkshires Staff
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PITTSFIELD, MASS. — Pittsfield High School's Proteus Theatre is having one of its largest seasons in recent times with the intention of producing six performances this year.
The program is on its second performance with a Talent Showcase this Wednesday, Dec. 7, at 6:30 in the high school's theater.
The show is organized and run by the students, allowing them to experiment with their passions and gain leadership skills. 
"I think PHS is a really student-centered place and a really student-driven place. And the school as a whole loves opportunities to showcase — no pun intended — showcase the talents and accomplishments of their students. And I think this show is really representative of that because it's entirely student-driven and student-directed," theater teacher Kyla Blocker said. 
That makes the talent show representative of the school's goals, she said. "I will be seeing the acts for the first time on the 7th …So, it's exciting that we have opportunities for students to take leadership roles and to put something together all by themselves."
Students are involved in every aspect of the show, which demonstrates the leadership opportunities the theater department provides, tech and stage manager Claire Jones said. 
"I think especially our theater department is for students, by students. Like we put in the work," the junior said. "We have student directors, we have students in every aspect of this live theater that we're doing. And I think that's really important for us."
Not only does the talent show demonstrate opportunities, it also about the atmosphere it creates for the students.  
Many of the performers described the PHS as a welcoming, tight-knit community that helped them develop as humans and said they would be very different if they went somewhere else. 
"Even outside of the theater department, everyone in this school has these crazy, good talents in whatever they do. And I feel like each club, or team really, is supportive of each other just across all boards, like in the whole school," 16-year-old singer Dea Wood-Crooks said.
"And I know, us especially, have put in a lot of effort to make the theater program very welcoming, and like a safe space and I feel like we've really been achieving that a lot."
The performances will be directed by Wood-Crooks and Summer Lawton, both juniors, who will also be showing off their talents during the showcase. 
The showcase draws in a diverse group of students who specialize in mediums including music, tech, theater, and more. This eclectic group allows students to interact and build relationships with peers that they may not have had a chance to otherwise. 
The supportive bond that they create with one another allows them to gain the confidence to show off who they are through their performances.
"This is going to be my first performance so they've helped me to try to get more confident with what I'm playing and all that because I've never performed in front of anyone," pianist Aiden Hyatt said. 
"I'm confident to be able to play it in the first place but being able to be confident in front of an audience, it's a big thing that they've been able to help me out with."
The students have been working diligently to make the show as good as it can be, Wood-Crooks said. 
"I'm excited about the work that everyone has put in, I feel like everyone is putting in a lot of effort and really trying to make this be as good as it can be," she said. "And I'm really proud of how far, confidence wise, a lot of the people have come." 
The show goes beyond showcasing talents but is also about having the courage to go up on stage and doing what you love, student Brianna Brennan said. 
"I also think that it's not just about showcasing your talents, it's also having the courage to go up there and doing what you love. And I mean, personally, I've always struggled with singing and having the confidence to do that," she said.
"Luckily, Dea and Summer have helped me a lot with their confidence and getting me to open up more when singing. And I might not be the best at it but it's something that I love to do. So it's something that you don't even have to have a talent for, just doing something going out there having the confidence to do that in front of people is just amazing."
High school is a very formative and scary time for young adults so having a program that provides a safe space for the students to come together and express themselves through their passions is important, Wood said. 
"I just think that it's very important because nowadays, we have the stress of social media, we have everything in our hands. So we are constantly stressed out. And here, we kind of turn off our phones and forget our differences," junior Rose Fiscella said.
"We all just become one, not to sound cheesy, but we can share things with each other that we wouldn't share. It's not like in a classroom … And you won't be able to get that kind of therapy as in theater, you can kind of get over your fear and be able to show things you wouldn't be able to show in the classroom or in public or on social media."
The students are looking forward to seeing all different talents and the audience's reaction to their hard work, Fiscella said. 
Art is a great way to gain confidence and introduce your true self to the world, many of the showcase performers said. 
"Part of the reason that people want to watch music performances, theater performances, dance performances, whatever that may be, any type of performing arts is because there's something in it that can universally speak to people," Blocker said.
"I think in this case, when they've all chosen their own material, they've identified with it in some way and then they're bringing parts of themselves to it anytime you perform, anytime you act you bring part of yourself to it. And so I think that that can really come through in a performance like this where they've chosen their stuff."
Tickets are $5 at the door, cash and checks only. Enter through the Appleton Street entrance of PHS.

Tags: PHS,   school theater,   

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Owner of Abandoned Cats Pleads Guilty to Animal Cruelty

Staff Reports
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A woman accused of abandoning more than a dozen cats during snowstorm a year ago has pleaded guilty. 
Kelly Hathaway of Pittsfield pleaded guilty on Friday to two counts of animal cruelty in Central Berkshire District Court as part of a plea agreement. Following the plea agreement, she was ordered to have a mental health evaluation and follow any after care as instructed by the court.
She was placed on two years probation and ordered to perform 50 hours of community service. She is not allowed to possess any animals and was ordered to surrender any she has in her care. She is also prohibited from volunteering with any animal groups.
Hathaway and another defendant were charged last March with abandoning 15 cats on back roads in Richmond and Lanesborough after an investigation by Lanesborough Police, Lanesborough Animal Control and the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
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