Radio Shows: A Success from GHS’s Theater Department


GHS Drama Department

GHS’s 3rd Radio Show: The Search for Christmas Spirit, written by Riley Anna Olson.

Jessica Gunther, Staff Writer

With COVID-19 restrictions, events at GHS have been either canceled or have required improvisations. The school’s theatre department has had great success in their radio shows: stand-in productions that help to maintain school enthusiasm. 

The idea of doing these radio shows came from the creative minds of Sarah Dempsey, the theatre department chair, and Austin Joseph, the new student teacher working with the department. 

“We wanted something people could look at for more than one night, and for free,” Dempsey said.

“[Joseph and Dempsey] came up with the idea to keep us doing shows and hold our interest, but also because it lets us participate in a new form of theatre.” senior and theatre council Department Speaker Harrison Andrus said. “The voice acting has been a very fun new challenge for our department to learn!”

As of January, there have been four productions. The first show, Confessions of the Mad, premiered on October 31st. Written and directed by Austin Joseph, the show is based on the chilling, classic tales of Edgar Allen Poe. In November, Dracula: the Trials of Van Helsing was released, and was written and directed by Sarah Dempsey. The Search for Christmas Spirit, written by GHS alumni Riley Anna Olson was released in December, and A Christmas Carol was also released that month, which was based on the timeless story by Charles Dickens, and also directed by Joseph. 

“It’s been really successful when it comes to involving students and participation,” Joseph said. “The most successful one was probably A Christmas Carol. It’s the longest, and it’s the most well known of the four. Also, the students had been able to learn from the experience of the other shows.”

 This show is neck-in-neck with the first one, Confessions of the Mad when it comes to student involvement. 

Confessions of the Mad is a very well done radio show,” Andrus said. “Not only was it fun to work on, but the cast is very strong and the audio and imagery are very great! The story and writing are done beautifully. Not to mention the horror aspects, all in all, it is very strong, very enjoyable, and is still available to be viewed on our YouTube channel.”

But every show was creative and unique in its own way and took a group effort to bring to such success. 

“I love Dracula because when I was creating it, the actors collaborated with me and gave me their ideas,” said Dempsey. “It was also the first show I ever wrote at GHS, and it was fun to bring it back to life all those years later.”

The success of these productions stemmed from the theatre department’s involvement on social media and advertising, reaching out to many students through platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and of course, by posting the shows on Youtube. This also includes just word of mouth from the cast and producers to peers and their families. 

“We have always had supporters of our department and now without having to pay to watch and direct access on YouTube, it has never been easier to access and view, or in this case, tune in to, our theatre performances!” Andrus said.

Although these shows have been a hit, success and participation could still be increased. Joseph believes that this could improve by the staff reaching out to students, and getting people to view their content. He says that getting more time to rehearse would help as well. 

“More of the freshman students auditioning would be amazing. They are a little shy and I understand. However, if they were to come and audition to be in things it would be super amazing and a really fun time for them. Then we would have more help spreading the news about our shows.” Andrus said.

By increasing participation in these radio shows, as a viewer and cast member alike, more enthusiasm can be upheld until shows are back in-person. In the meantime, you can check out the drama department’s social media and Youtube.

Instagram – ghsdramadepartment

Facebook – Gresham High School Drama Department

Youtube – Gresham HS Theatre

“I hope you all have the opportunity to check them out!” said Dempsey. “It will be available for the whole year, and not only are you listening to it, but there’s great visualization. All in all it’s been a lot of fun.”