Facebook18Tweet0Pin0 Submitted by NOVA SchoolIn the Middle, an original play which debuts at NOVA School on Thursday, March 6, wrestles with universal issues of adolescence. It has been a middle school student production not just “in the middle,” but from the very beginning.Anticipating this year’s play in NOVA’s three-year cycle of comedy, then drama, then musical, students last spring asked NOVA’s Drama and History Teacher Jason Sieling what musical was on deck for 2014. Sieling joked, “Oh, we’re going to write our own musical!“Then, the more I thought about it, the more I thought, ‘This could work,’” Sieling said.The process began in October, with more than a third of NOVA’s 106-member student body showing up for the first brainstorming session. NOVA is an independent middle school for highly capable 6th through 8th graders.Sieling asked students to submit parts of a script, prompting them with questions about middle school issues, struggles and highlights.“They’re at that age where they’re just beginning to break away from their parents, they’re caught between friends, they’re becoming aware of who they are and where they want to be in the social strata. They’re caught between childhood and growing up,” Sieling said. For weeks, students turned in pages of dialogue, which gradually developed into scenes. NOVA Strings and Choir Teacher Jennifer Grady reviewed students’ suggestions for popular songs and selected those which relate thematically to the play. Since January, Sieling and Grady and a swarm of students meet most days after school to rehearse, build sets, and practice the technical aspects of stagecraft.“This is such a rich experience to explore both academic and nonacademic development,” said Barbara Mitchell Hutton, NOVA Head of School. “As one example, the kids did the math for set design, transferred the plans to the wood and other materials, built the sets, developed a working team, all while music blasted in the background!”“I really enjoyed the writing process,” said Liam McFarland, 12, a NOVA sixth grader who is a writer and performer.“I enjoyed creating my character,” said Becca Barer, 13, a seventh grader. “I liked the control over the play, and thinking of jokes that everybody gets.”Set crew shared that they kept adult audience members in mind as well as their own peers. “We had to think about how kids and adults see middle school differently,” said one technician. “Adults think of chalk boards and pencils. Kids think of white boards and computers.”Sieling said the play will appeal to “anyone who remembers middle school.” Performances are at 7 p.m., Thursday through Saturday, March 6-8, with a 2 p.m. Saturday matinee, at NOVA Middle School, 2020 22nd Ave. S.E.