5-MINUTE INTERVIEW WITH KAELIE DERBY
This week, students from Menno High School were scheduled to take part in the Region 1B One-Act competition with their play, “Dark Road.” The cast and crew of 19 includes junior Kaelie Derby, who plays the leading character in the show that offers a hard look at life in Auschwitz in the 1940s. The story revolves around Derby’s character, Greta, who is sympathetic to the Hitler-led effort to torment and execute the Jewish population despite pleas from her sister, Lise, who ends up a victim. Here’s Kaelie’s reflection in her own words.
What has it been like for you to be part of this emotional show?
Very challenging. It’s been a lot of hard work. We’ve put a lot of time into this, and I’ve put a lot of my own time into it, too.
Did you want this role?
At first, I did not want this part. When I first heard what we were doing I didn’t know a lot about this show, but I wanted the part of Lise because I like to be emotional and I knew that she was a very emotional character. But when we went to tryouts Mrs. Knodel had me try out for the part of Greta and I found out that I really liked her a lot.
It’s a powerful show. What’s it like to act out these strong emotions?
It’s kind of scary. I think it gets scary because when you have to portray something this serious you don’t want to mess it up. But I also like to empower people so I feel it’s very rewarding — just to show people the power of a show like this.
How long have you been working on it?
We started in late December.
And were you ever like, “Holy cow, this is intense.”
Yes. Yes! So how I get hung at the end — I didn’t know that was a thing until I read through the script. That’s really hard. And it’s really hard when I send my own sister to her death.
Is there genuine emotion when you’re up there?
I think it’s genuine emotion, yes. Talking about this stuff makes you realize what it was actually like then, and you get to portray it so you put that emotion into it, and it’s real. Real emotion does show, especially when you’re interacting with other characters like Lise.
What do you hope the audience takes away from this?
I want them to feel and know what it was like for the Jews and how they were treated, and how hard it was for them. In the part I play, I believe that I did nothing wrong and I believe that I was doing what was best for my country, but in reality it was a very, very terrible thing. I want people to take away from this how hard it was for the people to go through.
This is a serious show, but have you had fun?
Yeah, it was a lot of fun. We did goof around quite a bit and it was a lot of fun to work with all these people and put together the play. Our directors helped a lot and it was a lot of fun to work with them; they’ve helped me a lot and they’ve helped all the other characters, too.
What’s your history with theater?
I’ve been involved in one-act and oral interp since I was a freshman and I enjoy it a lot. I love acting; I love putting emotion into stuff. It’s my forte.
This is Mrs. Betsy Knodel’s last year working with Menno theater. What’s it been like to have had her as a director?
It’s a lot of fun. I love working with her and she really does know what she’s doing. I like learning from her and I know that if I don’t know how to do something, she will.