Overlake Actors Become Fools


When Overlake actors take on a script to play a town full of not so bright individuals, you know it’s going to be a stretch for our young cast. 

That’s the case with our fall production of Fools which is in the middle of rehearsals. Fools is a Neil Simon play set in a small Ukraine village in the 19th century. The main character, schoolteacher Leon Steponovich Tolchinsky, takes on the job teaching a young woman and quickly discovers that there is something not right with the town.  

Bill Johns directs the play and is blessed with a large class made up of 25 seventh and eighth graders. Because of the large class size, Johns decided to use an entirely different cast for the two-night show.

His students took it a step further and came up with the idea to change the gender of the teacher from a man to a woman in the second performance. “It’s been intriguing and demanding of all of us,” says Johns. “The original script calls for a male teacher to show up, fall in love, and save the day. With our change, it really challenges our gender biases, and there’s been a lot of juggling and contortions in the script to make this work.”

That additional work means that the two casts are working opposite from one another. Alternating between the black box theatre and the main Fulton stage, they switch from day to day. Johns credits his Assistant Student Director Alyssa J. ('20) with the double duties. 

“Because it was their idea, they’re really buying into the change. I really hope that the audience will see both versions and create some interesting conversations,” adds Johns. 

Fools runs on Friday, November 9 and 10. 

Click here to see some the cast in rehearsal.