Valhalla Theatre’s first student director brings in three high schools in ‘Twelfth Night’

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Christopher Torborg, with the help of students from Valhalla, Monte Vista, and West Hills High Schools, put on his production of Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night,” making him not only the first student director at Valhalla, but also, the first director at Valhalla to cast students from other schools. Receiving the support of audience members from not only Valhalla, but also Monte Vista and West Hills as well meant that the theatre was filled with people eager to support the actors and the director.

Christopher Torborg, with the help of students from Valhalla, Monte Vista, and West Hills High Schools, put on his production of Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night,” making him not only the first student director at Valhalla, but also, the first director at Valhalla to cast students from other schools. Receiving the support of audience members from not only Valhalla, but also Monte Vista and West Hills as well meant that the theatre was filled with people eager to support the actors and the director.

“The audience reaction was phenomenal and I was really proud of all my actors,” said Torborg about the success of the play, “I think it was really important to show what we are capable of as students, and also to close the gap between the other schools.”

The play follows the story of Viola, a noble born aristocrat who shipwrecks in Illyria and finds work in the court of Duke Orsino disguised as a man, calling herself ‘Cesario.’ The role of Viola was played by Ashley Brown, a student from Monte Vista, and Valhalla’s Joseph Chavez, a first time theatre performer, played the role of Duke Orsino.

“Acting was everything I could have imagined,” said Chavez. “The energy of it all, the frustration at getting a line wrong, the excitement when you feel you nailed it. It all really made me want to come back to performing again.”

And while it was Chavez’s first time acting at Valhalla, for many actors it was their final time performing in a Valhalla production and on the same stage that many actors have found their passion on.

“It meant the world to get to be part of the last theatre production on the stage that has seen so many incredible performances over the years,” said Ellie Cook, who played Antonia, the pirate who saves Viola from the shipwreck.

The logistics of putting on a show such as this one, that was completely student run and organized, are overwhelming at best.

“I had my doubts,” said Chavez about Torborg’s ability to accomplish such a feat. “But Chris was surprisingly patient. He had a vision and he figured out how to execute it as we went along and did so without very much frustration.”

 “He put together a really incredible show with very limited resources and time, all while still being a student,” said Cook.

Having to balance working with students from other schools proved to be a very rewarding effort for the cast.

“One of my favorite parts of preparing for ‘Twelfth Night’ was getting to know some amazing and talented people from other schools who I never would have met if I hadn’t been in the show,” said Cook.

Chavez said being around these incredibly talented actors was “so intimidating as a rookie”

“But I learned so much from them and I thank each member of the cast and crew who allowed me to be in the same play as them,” he said.

Torborg’s attempt to bridge the gap between schools and offer his cast a unique high school theatre experience was key to the shows overall success.

“It was important to me to bring them all together and give them the opportunity to meet new people and work with new people. So I think the show was a good success,” he said.

Torborg hopes to pursue theatre as a career in his future, trying his hand at acting, directing, and tech managing. He will participate in a Shakespeare intensive at the Old Globe this summer and will be auditioning for the fall season of Grossmont College’s theatre program.

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