Glenn McMahon had no complaints as he prepared for this school year’s open house at Baton Rouge High School.
McMahon and the rest of the drama department have use of a recently renovated theater and two smaller, black box theaters, plus additional office space and dressing rooms.
When he first took the job as director of Baton Rouge High’s Gifted and Talented Theatre Program, however, the situation was much different.
“We practiced in a basement that was partially flooded. We put plywood over flooded parts,” he reminisced.
Despite those early challenges, the school’s Bulldog Players performed at The Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland this summer, one of 59 high school groups invited from the United States and Canada, out of 3,100 that submitting applications, McMahon said.
The invitation came from the overall theater program’s body of work and student support, McMahon said, which has been many years in the making.
The play his students performed at The Fringe — called “The Basement Project” — was so-named because it started out many years ago as a class project for his talented theater students.
It had been a rough year for many of his students that year, so he sat them all down and told them to write a scene that told the truth.
The work that came out of the project was so honest, raw and emotional, they all agreed to wait until everyone had graduated before it was performed.
“When we were trying to decide what to perform, I decided it was time to bring this out,” he said.
It later morphed into “The Basement Project,” the one-act play that they honed for the festival, and hasn’t lost any of its power, he said.
Some of the scenes were modified from the original student work, and some were barely touched.
“It was a great opportunity for the students,” he said, adding that he hopes he will have time to repeat the application process again this year.
For more information about the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, visit the festival website, edfringe.com.
To learn more about the Bulldog Players, visit the drama club’s website, bulldogplayers.org, where a schedule of this year’s shows will be posted soon.