Step inside ‘Museum’ with Vashon High School thespians

“Museum” gives each student in the show a chance to shine.

A talented cast of youth theater-makers will take the stage in “Museum,” an acclaimed play by Tina Howe, to be presented at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, May 17 and 18, and 3 p.m. Sunday, May 19, at Vashon High School Theater (VHS).

Howe’s 1978 play, set in a major museum on the last night of an important exhibition of modern art, was described in one of its first reviews, in The New York Times, as “a comedy of absurdities with a serious message.”

Vashon High School’s theater students — cast as art world movers, shakers, makers and takers — make up the play’s ever-shifting and often hilarious parade of humanity passing by the silent works of art.

“Museum,” according to Andy James, VHS theater teacher and director of the show, gives each student in the show a chance to shine.

“Every character is his or her own art piece,” said James. “As an audience member, it will be like you’re watching a little terrarium of human experience.”

James said the play has a deeper impact, with the cumulative effect of “sneaking up” on its audience with a more serious message behind its comedy.

“A lot of times, it’s like overlapping sketches,” he said. “And I mean sketches as in ‘sketch comedy,’ but also sketches in [the sense] of an artwork. You learn just enough about the people to be swept up in them, and then away they go.”

The play, he added, is very accessible.

“It isn’t very hard to understand, and it should just feel natural,” he said.

Before every performance, audience members are invited to step onto the stage before the show, to see the art up close and interact with it, mirroring what will happen after the lights go up on the play.

On opening night, there will also be a student showcase of visual art at the high school, starting at 5 p.m. (See Arts Briefs, page 8).

Get tickets at the door. The show comes with a parent advisory, as there is some strong language in the play that may not be suitable for the youngest viewers.

Maarten Ribalet-Coesel is a VHS theater student.

Correction: The time of the show on Friday and Saturday night was incorrectly stated as 7:30 p.m. in an earlier version of the article. The show starts at 7 p.m. on those nights. We regret the error.