Harper Takes Direct Approach

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sla-harper-toneyWhen Harper Toney, a senior at Lafayette SCAPA, was planning her classes for the 2013-14 school year, she realized the school lacked a course she wanted.

So she invented her own class – an independent study course in directing.

For that class she will direct Neil Simon’s “Brighton Beach Memoirs” the first weekend in June.

This is a student-led production with Brianna Mayo (producer), Haley Kane (assistant director) and Isaac Hines-Williams (stage manager) joining Harper in leadership roles.

This is the first time in the school’s 27 year history that SCAPA will produce a completely student-led play.

Although Harper has directed SCAPA middle schoolers in scenes from other plays, this is a major undertaking in which she has cast the play and is leading the actors – her peers.

“So far it has been amazing,” she said. “The actors have treated me with respect and I’m learning to have grace in being a leader.”

Harper started acting in sixth grade appearing in “Seussical the Musical” at Morton Middle.

That was followed by roles in Lexington Children’s Theatre productions of “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever,” “Alice in Wonderland” and “Anne Frank and Me.”

“LCT really created my love for theater and I am so thankful to them for that,” she said.

That love of theater has taken her to roles outside of school and LCT where she worked with adults in productions by Summerfest and Actors Guild.

She credits mentors such as Lexington actor Robert Parks Johnson and SCAPA teacher Paul Thomas.

“Doing all these plays in high school as I try to become an adult helps me find myself as a person,” she said.Harper-toney-les-Miz

In addition to winning roles in plays, Harper has won awards in speech, qualifying for the state competition four times.

Harper feels at home in all types of performances.

“I put on a new skin and become a completely different person,” she said. “I like becoming a new and different entity, not that I don’t like who I am.”

What is up next for this busy senior? In addition to preparing for “Brighton Beach Memoirs,” Harper is deciding on where to attend college.

In the running are College of Wooster in Ohio, Earlham College in Indiana and Emory and Henry College in Virginia.

In the meantime, she hopes other students follow her lead as a director.

Said Harper: “I hope my love of directing is something my fellow high school students will share and find for themselves.”

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