the beginnings of a character study...
|When Hannah Broadhead was 12, she told her parents that she intended to become an actress. They smiled and patted her on the head (she had not yet grown to her full height), and promptly sent off for brochures to find a boarding school that offered no theatre classes or opportunities for performance. They found such a facility in Crown Hall, an all girl’s prep school located deep in the foothills of Virginia.
Crown Hall was not an unpleasant place to spend adolescence. The academics were solid, the grounds were reasonably groomed, the rooms were Spartan, but comfortable enough. Each room had a radiator that clanked and rattled throughout the winter, but Hannah found this strangely comforting after so many years of living on Sea Island in a house that merely hummed whether the air-conditioner battled away at the salty heat or the heater kicked in, hastily warming the house to its customary 68 degrees. The radiators at Crown Hall cranked and sputtered with such gusto – transforming her room into a veritable sauna unless she opened her window – she grew fond of the disparate temperatures duking it out in her bedroom. On particularly cold days, Hannah would warm her clothes on the radiator while she showered, so that she could slip her damp body into gently warmed garments before heading down to the dining hall for breakfast. This habit was cut short by the accidental scorching of her favorite pair of blue jeans one Sunday, when she took a particularly long shower.
If her parents thought that by sending their daughter to Crown they would quiet her lust for theatre, they were mistaken. Hannah had spent her days on the island inventing dramas: at Crown Hall, she merely had a new venue and fresh players. Shortly after arriving at Crown, and certainly before she had any friends there, Hannah reinstated the drama club (which had been inactive for nearly ten years) and promptly appointed herself president. In this position, she would not only write theatrical adaptations of the works of literature, she would direct herself and her fellow classmates in these productions, which were held in the dining room after Study Hall.
Ever studious, Hannah applied herself to her English classes, and particularly to the study of theatrical works. Dr. Bruning was her English teacher, a giant, caustic old man, who reeked of old age, and who had secretly harbored fantasies of being an actor himself. Were it not for a pronounced lisp and his peculiar manner of spitting out hard consonants, he might have done so. In any case, Hannah had no problem convincing him to allow her to focus on dramatic literature. Her Freshman year, she focused on Shakespeare: the Histories, the Comedies, the Tragedies. Her sophomore year, she moved backwards in time and read the Greek plays: Medea, Oedipus Rex, Antigone. Her Junior year was American Literature, so she took a look at all the major American playwrights: Williams, Shepard, O’Neill, etc. Senior year, she focused on European theater: Brecht, Chekhov, Pinter, and Stoppard.
Of course, she was required to familiarize herself with non-theatrical works of literature as well. Hannah read voraciously: Each text she evaluated by determining how well-suited to the theatre the story would be: If she felt a text worthy of adaptation, she did so. By her Junior year, Hannah would create productions out of any academic material. Thus the processes of photosynthesis were as likely to be enacted by her thespian peers as Ovid’s Metamorphosis (in Latin, mind you).