Senior project “Red Stars” confronts the history of freedom in film



“Red Stars” is being performed on Wednesday, Feb. 16 in the Black Box.

What would it be like to be persecuted for your speech? This year’s drama senior project, Red Stars, takes a look at an important moment in history where protections of speech in America were curtailed in the name of security.

Every year, two seniors are chosen by the drama teachers to write and direct a play. Seniors Sophie O’Connell and Thomasin Schmults have been chosen for this year. The play is going to be performed on Feb. 16.

Senior Isaac Morse, who plays Herbert Biberman, said the play is set in the 1940s during the Red Scare.

“(The play) surrounds a couple of characters of the Hollywood 10, who were communist directors who were villainized and sent to jail for the movies that they directed during this time,” Morse said.

O’Connell said the inspiration for the play came from learning about McCarthyism, a campaign led by Senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin to remove supposed communists from American institutions.

“We learned about it in APUSH and just wanted to know more. Since we kind of had gotten a feeling that we might be the next in line for the Senior Project, we wanted to get started on a script,” O’Connell said.

The cast is made up of eight to 10 actors from different grades who are working hard to get ready for the performance.

“We’ve got a pretty relaxed but also very determined group of people, so nobody’s super stressed about [the play] right now,” Morse said.

The play is being rehearsed in person, but the cast members are keeping an eye on COVID-19 cases. Schmults said precautions are being taken while at rehearsals to prevent having to go remote.

“We’re worried that school is going to close up again because it’s really difficult to transition in the middle of rehearsals either way,” Schmults said. “We’re hoping that it won’t come to that.”