Ensemble acting goes to All-State

Seniors explore different character traits, actions

Members of the speech team understand what an honor it is to get asked to perform at All State speech. Typically, one event from Cedar Falls High School makes it to All State each year.  Seniors Maya Amjadi and Hanno Fenech’s ensemble act represented CF this past weekend on Sat. Feb. 16 at the All State Festival hosted at Iowa State.

“Mary Just Broke Up With This Guy” is a fast-paced, quick-witted piece that focuses on creating an array of characters. It calls for acting skills that allow audience members to follow each character and notice the inner contrast of the piece. Amjadi and Fenech put in numerous hours of work in order to perfect their characteristics for the act. Preparations were done in an abnormal manner due to both of their busy schedules and because Fenech had his tonsils taken out the week leading up to All State, though that had no negative impact on the performance in the slightest.

Seniors Hanno Fenech and Maya Amjadi perform their ensemble acting piece, “Mary Just Broke Up With This Guy” that made it to the All-State festival in Ames. Above, Amjadi is reacting to her date that has just pulled out hair that he has been collecting. (Agatha Fenech photo)

“Hanno and I have acted in speech team events together since sophomore year, and we have been acting out imaginary worlds since age three. Needless to say we feel really comfortable around each other because we know each other so well. This year specifically, our ensemble showcased Hanno’s character changing abilities and my reacting abilities. He had to create many different personas, and I had to maintain a realistic, steady character while growing a climax throughout the hilarious yet exhausting situations she finds herself in,” Amjadi said.

“Maya and I really focused on making this a piece unlike any other; our last hurrah you could say of our time on the speech team. Our goal was never to just ‘make All-State,’ moreover to make this ensemble the most unique, funny and best it could be, that, of course, entailed practice time, excellent input from our coach and a clear vision of what we wanted to express through the piece,” Fenech said.

Both Amjadi and Fenech accredit their brilliant performance to coach Nick Chizek.

“Nick has the outstanding and inspiring ability to see so much more than the words of the script, outside to the full potential of the production. He, unlike any other person I’ve met, has this fantastic, unconscious direction and knowledge of what things, whether it be an awkward pause here or a fake coughing fit there, will make the piece shine and be truly ‘laugh out loud’ funny,” Fenech said.

“With Nick’s creative ideas, we added a lot of jokes into the piece that engaged the audience. He is a mastermind and a brilliant artist, and there is no way our act could have performed at All-State without his genius vision and communication,” Amjadi said.

As seniors, Amjadi and Fenech wanted to go out with a bang, and making it to All State satisfied just that. “Mary Just Broke Up With This Guy” proved to be an impeccable fit for both. The piece challenged them in unforeseen ways, but was entirely rewarding.

“What I loved most about our piece was how real it felt in the moment. As Hanno became a psycho or a creeper, I would get scared or get the chills. It is amazing that someone I know so well can make me feel those things by making me believe he is someone else with different motives. Hanno’s last character ‘Charlie’ had this countenance when I was being really rude to him. I was exasperated, and the hurt and disappointment that were portrayed on his face sent a pang into my heart each and every time and made me feel horrible. At this level, feeling things like that, it’s like it’s not an act anymore. When we started each performance, I became Mary, and I thought her thoughts, and I felt her happiness and her regrets,” Amjadi said.

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