Hermantown digs into 'Holes'

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Members of the Hermantown High School drama department have been preparing for the spring production of Louis Sachar's "Holes."

"It's been a lot of fun to take this popular book and movie and prepare it for the stage," said director Ken Ahlberg. "There are some differences, but it's really unique because the same author who wrote the book and screenplay wrote the script."

The Newbery-award winning book was written by Louis Sachar in 1998 and was adapted for the screen in 2003. The book has become a staple in elementary classrooms and is part of the sixth-grade curriculum at Hermantown.

"We'll do a final dress performance for the whole middle school because they've all read it," Ahlberg said.

"Holes" tells the story of Stanley Yelnats, a teen boy who is sent away to a youth prison camp where he must dig holes to build character. There are stories that interconnect with Stanley's as his family has been cursed, and so is the land at Camp Green Lake.

Seventh-grader Jason Broska Jr. remembers reading the book the previous year.

"I liked it then, but I really feel like I understand the characters more now," Broska said. "Like, my character, Zero, is different from the one in the book and the movie, because I've made him my own. We did a character analysis and it really helped fill in the holes of my backstory."

Broska plays Zero, a younger quiet boy at Camp Green Lake who befriends Stanley. This is Broska's first performance at Hermantown, although he's been to shows at the Duluth Playhouse.

Joining Broska at Camp Green Lake is Hermantown junior Andy Hooper, who plays Armpit, a camp inmate who earned his nickname by being smelly.

"Though his real name is Theodore, but he hates it," Andy said.

Armpit has a short temper, but Andy said he picks his battles. Andy said he's never read the book, but he watched the movie to find inspiration.

Andy is joined in the cast by his sister Morgan Hooper who both plays Myra Menke in the show and serves as stage manager. This is Morgan's first time as stage manager, although she served on the crew during the recent one-act production.

"It's giving me a lot of respect for the position of stage manager. I have all these things to do and to keep track of. People ask me all these questions," Morgan said. "It's been a big learning curve, but also fun."

Hermantown Drama Club will present "Holes" at Hermantown High School 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, March 31 and April 1. Tickets are $8 for adults and $5 for students and will be available in the office, digital commons and at the door. The show is suitable for people of all ages.