Friends School of Baltimore's Student News * Founded 1938

The Quaker Quill

Friends School of Baltimore's Student News * Founded 1938

The Quaker Quill

Friends School of Baltimore's Student News * Founded 1938

The Quaker Quill

Friends juniors prepare for the 2023 Homecoming dance.
'Back to the Future' at Friends School [Brief]
Homecoming 2023 threw students from the '80s to the future, as DJ Ok got everyone on their feet, and even faculty busted a move.
Fans line up for snowballs from a Kona Ice truck during a break in the rain on Scarlet and Grey day.
Scarlet & Grey Day Hits the Quarter Century Mark [Brief]
On a recent rainy Saturday, Park and Friends School sports teams faced off in a series of contests, cheered on by hundreds of soggy fans.
On the final day of Spirit Week, seniors dressed in Friends School colors - scarlet and grey - for the annual Pep Rally.
A Silly, Spirited Week [Brief]
Leading up to Rivalry Day, students dressed up to show their school spirit - and sense of humor.
A senior accesses the Common App landing page for the University of Delaware. As college deadlines approach, the class of 24 is sleepy and stresses.
Seniors Feel College Pressure as Early Deadlines Approach [Brief]
The mood in senior hall is tense, as sleep-starved teens scramble to finish their essays - along with a heavy load of mid-semester schoolwork.
The Morgan State University Marching Band processes down the Friends School driveway, lined with cheering crowds of students, from preschoolers to 12th graders.
In a Year of Tragedy, Morgan Band Concert a Particular Gift [Brief]
Friends students expressed gratitude for the marching band's energetic performance - especially so soon after a shooting on the Morgan State University campus injured five students.
In Orioles fan and 12th grade dean Josh Carlins office, Friends memorabilia and a recent Baltimore Sun front page celebrating the teams winning season have pride of place.
Fans Dress for MLB Success on Friends' 'Orange Thursday' [Brief]
Led this season by an exciting core of young, up-and-coming stars, the Orioles have won back the hearts of many Friends School fans.
Award-winning novelist Jenny Offill visits the 10th grade English class of Rob Traviesso - her own former student.
Upper School Author Visit Brings Reunion [Brief]
Novelist Jenny Offill spent a day on campus meeting with students at the invitation of her own former student - English teacher Rob Travieso.
Senior Maeve Reichert, head of the literary magazine Mock Turtle, talks to potential 9th grade recruits during the 2023 clubs fair.
Highlights From Upper School Clubs Fair [Brief]
Dozens of clubs showed their stuff and courted new members at the high-energy, candy-fueled gathering on the quad.
Seniors line up in the heat to have their final yearbook photos taken.
Seniors Say (Melted) Cheese? [Brief]
This year's senior yearbook portraits fell during a record heat wave.
Lunch & M? Try Lunch & Melting [Brief]
Lunch & M? Try Lunch & Melting [Brief]
Heat broke records this month at Friends School of Baltimore.

Moving ‘Middletown’ Made Audiences Think

With its dark themes and surprise ending, the Upper School play about small-town America gave viewers lots to talk about.
Sophomore+Emma+Bailey+and+senior+Noah+Sheasby+played+the+leads+in+the+thought-provoking+Upper+School+production+of+Will+Enos+Middletown
Brayden Mathias
Sophomore Emma Bailey and senior Noah Sheasby played the leads in the thought-provoking Upper School production of Will Eno’s Middletown

Earlier this month, the Friends Upper School production of Middletown by Will Eno left many viewers feeling puzzled – but also wowed by students’ impressive acting.

Middletown explores the universe of a small American town while developing the friendship between resident John Dodge (played by senior Noah Sheasby) and new arrival Mary Swanson (played by sophomore Emma Bailey.) The various scenes show the lives of Middletown residents intersecting in strange ways that force the audience to think about real-world interactions.

Stars of the show Noah and Emma stand out for the way they connect as actors. Viewers enjoyed their scenes, as the many resounding laughs from the audience attested. 

For new Upper School principal Brandon Rogers, this was his first Friends School theater production. He had only positive things to say.

“Fantastic chemistry between Emma and Noah,” he said. “Those scenes are great. Very funny”

Mr. Rogers said he appreciated the opportunity to get to know some Friends students better through observing their dedication and passion in this work of art.

For other audience members, this was just one of many Friends school productions they’ve witnessed. Seniors Krisna Kumar and Erin Nicolson commented on how it contrasted with past productions.

“It was really moving. Definitely one of the most moving plays that we’ve done,” said Krisna.

Erin said she agreed.

“I really liked how it was darker than normal, and I thought that the actors did a really good job at portraying all of these really uncomfortable emotions,” said Erin. 

“They acted with a lot of maturity,” Krisna added.

Not many lower school students attended, as Middletown includes themes of self-harm and mental health struggles. However, those old enough to appreciate the art valued the darker choice of production. The engaged chatter at intermission centered around the students’ impressive skill at depicting these difficult topics.

The nontraditional ending also caught viewers’ attention.

“I actually really liked the way that they ended it, in that there wasn’t a curtain call,” said Krisna. “The way that the cast just sat there, and the audience was like ‘What just happened?’ I thought that was really cool. I liked that”

Erin also commented on the ending.

“At the end, the audience seemed really unsettled and unsure of what to do and whether or not to clap really loud,” she said. “I thought that it was interesting that we were left with so many emotions, and I like that better than a big grand happy ending.”

Typically, Friends productions end in a joyful standing ovation by family, friends and teachers of the performers. Middletown’s dark themes and nontraditional ending meant the reaction here was much more muted, and left viewers with a different feeling. Cast and crew members say for them, too, this production felt different.

Technical director Sophia Clark, who works closely with the stage crew, said the difficult themes affected the preparation for show weekend. It often feels like a struggle to have the productions ready for the performances, she said – but the darkness of this content created extra stress.

“It was a stressful show, but all productions are stressful. And this one deals with hard subject matter, so that’s expected,” said Sophia.

Despite the stress among cast and crew, encouraging laughs, gasps, and cheers from the audience showed that the play’s serious subject matter landed with viewers.

“There were some very deep moments. Very profound,” said Rogers.

Ultimately, Middletown was a hit! In the lobby after the show, students and teachers talked about how impressed they were by the talent of their peers and students. This was an opportunity to watch the people they see every day at school in a different light, creating a work of art, using their theatrical talent to portray difficult subject matter.

Friends School theater productions have always brought together students, teachers, administration, and parents, who come to support the actors, while being inspired by the art they’re creating. Middletown did not disappoint! It made the audience think about the themes of the play, and what it took to portray them so elegantly.

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About the Contributors
Macy Goldberg, Contributor
Macy, class of ‘24, has been at Friends for 15 years, and is passionate about leadership and community. She loves soccer, softball, musical theater, and math.
Brayden Mathias, Editor-in-Chief
Brayden, class of '24, is an Editor-in-Chief overseeing the Quill's digital team. He is passionate about history and enjoys writing articles regarding international events. He is also a two sport athlete, splitting his time between soccer and ultimate frisbee.
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