H-F Group Interpretation ensemble wins second place in state

Members of the H-F High Group Interpretation ensemble and their coach and teacher Janine Stroemer, second row on left, after winning second place in state competition. (Provided photo)
  Members of the H-F High Group Interpretation ensemble and
 their coach and teacher Janine Stroemer, second row on left,
won second place in state competition. 
(Provided photo)
 
Homewood-Flossmoor High School’s Group Interpretation ensemble won second place in state competition. It was the third year in a row H-F has placed. In 2018, H-F won the event and placed third in 2017. 
 
Group interpretation is under the direction of teacher Janine Stroemer who wrote the script for “From Dreams to Drama: Remembering Lorraine,” an examination of the life of Lorraine Hansberry, author of the play “A Raisin in the Sun.”
 
In 30 minutes time, the ensemble told the story of Hansberry’s life melted into scenes from “A Raisin in the Sun,” a 1959 play that won the New York Drama Critics’ Circle. Unlike a play, winning the GI competition falls to the students and their presentation. Timing must be impeccable. They use only one set of boxes for scenery.
 
Hansberry was born and raised on Chicago’s South Side by parents who migrated north and held to the principles of family and race. Her father tried to work to better the community. His friends included Jesse Owens and Paul Robison. He died suddenly when Hansberry was a teenager.
 
In “Raisin in the Sun,” Hansberry tells the story of a Chicago family trying to decide how best to use insurance money after the death of the father. The family struggles to decide which dreams the money will help fulfill.
 
Stroemer said she chose Lorraine Hansberry as the topic for this year’s production because of the student talent. The ensemble had 13 students on stage and two musicians for accompaniment. H-F students selected to the All-State Cast were Zoe Bridges, who portrayed Lorraine, and Jonathan Kriarakis, who played her husband, Robert Nemiroff, an American theater producer and songwriter.
 
While Stroemer did most of the writing, students gave input and would often help with revisions. Sometimes lines just didn’t work and other times students felt it didn’t give the right message. For example, Stroemer said the ending was re-written several times to move away from a community mourning to one that focused on how Hansberry inspired future black authors.
 
Stroemer praises students for their continued efforts. Students get no course credit for their work on the production. Practices were at least four or five hours five days a week for 10 weeks. There is a high level of stress because the competition is good, she said. 
 
“The only way you can do it is by direct repetition, not just repetition that day but repetition day after day after day,” she said.
 
A number of students, like junior Nate Jones, were new to Group Interpretation, but he said he’ll be back for the 2020 competition.
 
“Miss Stroemer says: ‘Work hard, play hard, work hard first.’  To me that means we have to put in the work, we have to put in the dedication. We have to put in the sweat, blood and tears so that we can create something beautiful,” Jones said.  “Once we’re on that stage in the final round, that’s when we have our fun because we’ve gone over it so many times and now it’s a privilege. We get to do what we love doing and no matter what.”
 
Ensemble members were Charles Austin, Morgan Barber, Zoe Bridges, Nia DeRamus, Starr Hollis, Jack Johnson, Nathenial Jones, Jonathan Kriarakis, Aaron Newman, Victoria Olaleye, Zora Shannon, Nia Smith and Jaekwon Watkins.
 
Musicians were Rowan Moxley and Charlotte McManus.
 
Student directors were Lauren Gosha, Adeera Harris, Darrow Richmond and Ally Ryan.
 
Traveling Crew were Teagan Bednarek, Nia Bell, Payton Brown, Max Cichon, Davi’De Cole, Ta’Myra Crossley, Jordan Drayton-Plaxico, Miranda Esparza, Amya Hampton, Gabrielle Jones, Sophie Kapica, Jacob Kirlin, Mackenzie Lyseng, Noelle Oh, Anaya Powell, Kortni Robinson and Sherri Tarrer.
 
Stroemer was assisted by English teacher Kanoa Mulling, himself a former Group Interpretation member, and Tim Tholl, head of the technical crew.
 

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