Rock Ridge Performing Arts Returns to Explore “The Trench”

Rock Ridge Performing Arts reappeared on stage on Oct. 26 with a free showing of “The Trench” by the DE Theater class. Based on a true story from World War 1, the audience follows a miner on a journey through the trenches of a historical fiction-fantasy world.


Manika Porchezhian

Despite certain restrictions that limited how they put on the show, the DE Theater class put on an entertaining, mind-twisting, and emotional act. They managed to get creative with their props, making them multifunctional. Audience member senior Viv Bali enjoyed this aspect of the show. “They were able to use everything they had to the fullest extent possible,” Bali said.

Adi Kidiyoor and Manika Porchezhian

Rock Ridge Performing Arts started their year with the DE Theater class’s performance of  “The Trench.” The free one-time show was performed on Oct. 26 at 6 p.m., giving Phoenix students, parents, and staff alike the chance to see the play before the cast moved on to perform at the Virginia Theatre Association (VTA) on Oct. 28.

Inspired by a true World War I story, “The Trench ” begins with Bert (senior AJ Ruknke), a tunnel miner for the military, laying landmines in the trenches beneath France in an attempt to gain the upper hand on German soldiers. On this journey, he trudges through war alongside Collins (junior Zehra Hassan), a young boy who he eventually befriends. However, Bert’s life takes a turn for the worst when he receives a letter containing terrible news from home, sending him into mental and physical turmoil. After a landmine causes his tunnel to collapse, Bert discovers horrors beyond his imagination and realizes that the darkness is more than it appears to be.

This performance was unlike other RRPA performances because the group had to follow VTA rules if they wished to perform there. For example, the cast and crew only had an allotted 45 minutes to set up all the props and get into their starting positions, execute their act, and clear the stage, which they ended up doing in 39 minutes and 16 seconds. “It was short and to the point, I think it was cool because [they were able to] show a whole story in that short amount of time,” senior Namrata Hari said.

This requirement also meant that the cast could not use microphones, stage lights, and big or immovable props. To combat this, those with speaking roles made sure to project their voices to reach over multiple rows of seats and others had handheld lighting to emphasize who was speaking. To ensure that all props could easily be cleared off the stage, the class got creative and used certain props for multiple scenes: chairs forming a tunnel, a ladder forming a bridge, and even the crew forming a hole for Bert to crawl through. 

Another effect of the VTA rules was that this production was less grand compared to RRPA’s other mind-blowing shows. However, they did not disappoint the audience, giving them an action-packed 40 minutes — one that captures the audience’s attention without even trying. Filled with emotion, innovation, and creativity, it was a great start to the theater department’s school year. “I really enjoyed the emotional aspects of [the play], because we were up close and there were no mics, it felt really intimate with the audience [since] you could feel the raw emotion in their voices,” Hari said.

Despite the limitations, the emotion and phenomenal acting made this performance worthwhile. “[The play has] just got that layer of emotional attachment,” junior Adith Pashya said. “It’s fantastic and I hope they do more things like this [in the future].” The actors and stage crew exhibited trust and hard work. It was clear to the audience that there was a strong bond between classmates, as they remained on stage acting and flawlessly moving around each other in the dark for 40 minutes. Overall, “The Trench” was an amazing show that the cast and crew should be proud of.