Murder's in the Heir

Murder’s in the Heir

Every fall, students begin asking me “Did you pick a play yet?” on the first day of school.

It’s a testimony to the committed and enthusiastic love for the drama program that persists at Hamilton District Christian High.

Even without an auditorium, a rehearsal room, or a drama classroom, the passion for acting and drama is alive and well here. In the five years I have been teaching drama, I have seen the power of community built through disciplined rehearsal. I have seen students face their fears and develop confidence. I have shared successes and failures with students and grown alongside them. It is a privilege to share this creative journey with them each year.

A Friendly Battle Every Night
This spring’s production of Murder’s in the Heir by Billy St. John was just the same. Despite the fact that it was a light-hearted, comedic show as opposed to a dramatic one, the whole team poured their hearts into creating a fun experience for the whole audience. Each night, it was a friendly battle amongst the cast to be chosen as the murderer. Once the ballots had been counted, the murderer’s head shot was posted backstage, and everyone knew their role. And in a perfect turn of events, a different person was chosen each night, so four cast members were given the chance to play the role of the sinister murderer. We couldn’t have planned it better!

My favourite memory was the secret dance parties we had backstage before we went on for a scene.” Julie Luth

The Fourth Wall
In the theatre world, the barrier that separates the audience and the actors is known as the “fourth wall.” It exists between the stage and the auditorium as if the audience is watching a piece of reality unfold before their eyes. When the fourth wall is maintained, the play becomes a “slice of life,” and the audience is willing to lose themselves in the scene, fully believing the events on stage. In Murder’s in the Heir, the fourth wall is broken, and actors interact with the audience throughout the show. This allows for the actors to become outlandish versions of their characters, going right over the top for a laugh. This technique became the magic of the show.

We were tickled by a ditzy heiress, creeped-out by a lurking housekeeper, and intimidated by a stern nurse. We smirked at the pompous butler, laughed at bumbling handyman, and sneered at the shameless playboy. All the characters, in their own way, created an outlandish version of their type, contributing to the general silliness of the show. As a director, it is a pure delight to watch those characteristics develop throughout the rehearsal process; even more, it is fun to watch little things change through each performance! Small lines get changed as the actors become more comfortable on stage.

My favourite memories are all the improvisation – whether it was improvising jokes or actions or simply trying not to break character or laugh when other actors included unscripted jokes throughout the performances. These are the moments that I will always remember fondly.” ~ Anna Alblas

Thanks to everyone who worked so hard to make this show happen. It was a very busy spring at HD, and we had some unusual circumstances that ramped up the stress for this production. But, as always, many people stepped in to pick up the pieces and did so with a smile. This community is filled with generous, talented folks, and I am extremely grateful. Thank you “from the bottom of my….heart!”

By Sara Whetstone, Drama Director
Hamilton District Christian High