Merry Men: Behind the Nottingham stage


Alan Gazano and Nicholas Ramirez

The tickets for “Merry Men” were created by sophomore Ashley Santana.

Most people don’t understand the work that goes into a play, but after going through the process ourselves, we experienced firsthand how intensive it is. Even with the challenges, it was a fun and enjoyable opportunity. In this article, we’ll be exchanging our own take on the different aspects of putting together this performance: receiving your lines, working together, and putting on a show.

The first thing for actors in the “Merry Men” process was getting your material and learning your lines.

Nicholas Ramirez – Sheriff
Work on the play started back in December of 2021 with the unveiling of the script. We were given the entire winter break to get all of our lines from the seven-scene play down so that we would be ready to block and act in January. However, I was one of the few people who had to audition for and was not given a role directly. During lunch, I remember coming in and having to interpret the Sheriff’s lines which I’ve only ever seen once before. Once my role was assigned, I had a few weeks to fully memorize the script.

Alan Gazano – Archer
Getting the role and prepping for it is definitely a big part of the play. It is nerve wracking but exciting at the same time learning about the character or characters you will be playing in the play and really visualizing how they are and how they act. It is very important to be comfortable with the role you are playing in order to maximize your performance and make it as great as you can. There can definitely come challenges with the role you may receive but it can be a nice and fun challenge.

However, it wasn’t a solo effort with just the actors on stage.

Nicholas Ramirez – Sheriff
It took a lot of people in order to make this play possible. Some of them even come from outside Middle College High School and Santa Ana College. For example, the horses seen through the play were actually produced by a friend of Mrs. Silverstein. January had come along, and with it, intersession classes. Many performers had to balance their high school, college, and now drama rehearsal classes all at once. Our rehearsals would last until 6 ‘o’clock for most weeks and even take a 10 hour Saturday for tech. Students on site were either part of the crew or actors themselves. The actors had to have their lines and the delivery memorized, make sure they were where they needed to be on set on time, and also play the role of stage crew, setting up the scenes when the opposite cast of actors were up on stage. The behind-the-scenes crew were on call most all the time in order to create the wall seen on stage through the play. If one of those 70+ boxes broke, the crew was on duty to get it fixed for performance day.

Alan Gazano – Archer
In the production of this play there are a lot of roles that come together to put on the whole performance together. Not only are the actors working very hard to memorize their lines and block their actions on the stage, but so are the understudy cast and the crew, who are making and setting up props. The student director is a huge help throughout the production and so is the stage manager in assisting each role and helping them as well as advising them on things they should do or change. In the end it all comes together and is used to put on the spectacular show that the audience sees.

Performance day came quickly and we had a bit of a fright to get on the stage.

Nicholas Ramirez – Sheriff
When it came time to perform, I was admittedly a bit nervous to be on-stage. Although, it wasn’t my first time in front of an audience for drama, having performed in “Our Town” years prior. Phillip’s Hall was a much bigger stage than the one used for the Black Box. One of mine, and most of the cast’s bigger fears was that the audience wouldn’t laugh at the jokes in the play, that we have grown so stale to the same jokes, we’d forget how to deliver them. Thankfully, on performance day, the audience got some big laughs, and besides the fact there were 200 seats of people, it felt just like rehearsal day.

Alan Gazano – Archer
When we got on that stage at first it was very nerve racking being there backstage, and hearing the audience and seeing them a bit from behind the stage. It felt very scary to finally be putting everything together and into action in front of a crowd. Going onto the stage, however, the butterflies I had felt in my stomach disappeared and it felt just like a rehearsal but I knew I had to give it my all.

We hope that this article has given at least a little insight to how some of these projects are completed. It’s a lot of work that starts way in advance and takes long hours from multiple different people, even if they never touch the stage.