The Reid era begins at TheatreMcLean

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The Reid era begins at TheatreMcLean

Sophomores Ruby Larimer and Russel Reed discuss

Sophomores Ruby Larimer and Russel Reed discuss "Don't Drink the Water" with theater teacher Phillip Reid during their lunch.

Sophomores Ruby Larimer and Russel Reed discuss "Don't Drink the Water" with theater teacher Phillip Reid during their lunch.

Sophomores Ruby Larimer and Russel Reed discuss "Don't Drink the Water" with theater teacher Phillip Reid during their lunch.

Alex Mandanas, A&E Editor

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“Reid is kind of like that really energetic, outgoing uncle that you see twice a year,” sophomore Jordan Prather said.

Phillip Reid, the department head of TheatreMcLean and resident theater teacher, is perceived among the theater kids of McLean as caring, goofy, creative, and yes, “that uncle”.

If Reid is “that uncle”, then his students are his bold and eccentric nieces and nephews. His students create unique community of over 100, where the worries of chaotic highschool life can be left at the door, and art can be practiced in a nourishing environment.

Reid has made theater a safe, secure place for students to express themselves. Theater is a home for many students. Not only is it a community, but it’s also an escape, a place to practice public speaking skills, and a place to gain confidence.
Reid’s primary goal is to encourage students to be the best they can possibly be on and off stage.

“[My goal is] to make them feel more comfortable about themselves, to feel secure in making bold choices, and to not be afraid of failure,” said Reid. To him each student is significant and worthy.

“I love my students, I really do. I try to get to know every single one of them, on a personal level,” Reid said.

This caring, bona fide attitude hasn’t gone unnoticed. This level of altruism not only positively affects his hands-on teaching style (described as personalized), but also the high degree of trust students present to him.

“On those worksheets counselors give out [that ask] to ‘put down the name of a teacher who you would trust to talk to’ I put down Mr. Reid. Honestly, he really is the teacher I would go to,” Prather said.

Sophomore Abby Covington added that his thoughtful nature was an important aid to her transition into high school.

“He just genuinely cares about all of his students which is something that I recognized in the first couple of months with him, so it was really easy to trust him as a teacher and become really good friends with him,” Covington said.

Reid also had a special theater teacher in high school: Mr. Monk of Chantilly High School. Reid found his passion for theater in fifth grade when he played the king in his school’s production of Robin Hood. He only had one line, but it was funny and life changing.

“I said my line and everyone started laughing, and I was like ‘I can do that? I can entertain people?’” Reid said.

He continued with theater camps and middle school theater until he reached Chantilly High School and met Mr. Monk.

“He really helped me discover how wonderful theater could be and how it can change the world,” Reid said. He then went to Virginia Commonwealth University and acquired a performing arts degree.

Reid toured the country, performing and deeply enjoying it, and then he found that teaching at theaters with educational programs was incredibly rewarding and thus, a career in education developed.

“It just sort of evolved. I really loved performing and teaching at the same time, but eventually, I really wanted to take what I learned as an actor and transfer it to students,” Reid said.

Last year, he landed a part time job at McLean, working with Chip Rome, who has since left. Now Reid has full control of McLean’s drama department. Rome taught him the clerical, administrative, and logistical approach to running a high school theater department.

“Now I can take that information and bring my own style (of theater) to it,” Reid said.
Reid creates a collaborative environment when it comes to constructing shows.

Students are trusted to contribute their creative input and run certain aspects of the production. Tech heads, choreographers, and actors are enlisted and expected to do everything in their power to make the production as great as possible.

The first production of the season is Don’t Drink the Water, a political comedy written by Woody Allen. Don’t Drink the Water is set in an American embassy in a communist Cold War country in the 1960’s. The play follows a lively, Bob’s Burgers-esque, American tourist family who seek refuge in the embassy after being accused of espionage by the local police. It will be exhibited November 19th through the 21st.

“Don’t Drink the Water is right in my wheelhouse. I love these classic comedies that have a little bit of vaudeville, slapstick, and satire,” Reid said.

The winter show, The Children’s Hour takes a different direction entirely. It is a drama written by Lillian Hellman about how a troublemaking student of an all girls boarding school fabricates at rumor about her two teachers. The play examines the explosive nature of rumors and their aftermaths.

“We switch onto The Children’s Hour in the wintertime, which is a very heavy drama that will have a lot of creative output that will come from students,” Reid said.

Focus on students is what makes Reid so popular amongst his family of theater kids. Reid has managed to build a foundation of trust, friendship, and respect with his students.

“I trust him as an adult and as a friend,” Covington said.

TheatreMcLean has been in a transitional phase for two years, but seems that they’re settling down into who they are, all thanks to Reid.

“We’re a big family, we have fun, we’ll yell and fight with each other, but in the end, we are together creating art and it’s an awesome place to be,” Reid said.

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