After performing their past four plays with COVID restrictions, HBA’s theater production class has returned to a more normal semester this year. On December 2 and 3, the fall cohort will present their latest play “Brainstorm” in the high school gym, a departure from the usual elementary school auditorium stage.

The play, written by Ned Glaiser, Emily Lim, and Company Three, examines teenagers’ brains and the adolescent anxieties they face throughout high school. Unlike past HBA plays, this one’s script was partially written by theater class students as well as students from the HBA community at large. Students were asked to share their personal experiences and these were incorporated them into the plot. Additionally, the actors had the liberty to shape their characters’ hobbies and personalities. Through writing parts of the script themselves, the theater students hope that the play will resonate with the HBA student body.

Senior Hannah Dela Cruz, one of the performers in the play, explained, “The goal of our script was to really reflect the HBA community and tie it in with the teenage brain so that the play really applies to us as students and we can see ourselves in the characters of the play.” She added that the theater class worked together with the counseling department to get actual student input, so that experiences throughout the play would be diverse and applicable to a wide range of people.

Drama teacher and play director Anna Hamaguchi believes that while the play is meant to entertain, it also touches on actual neurological concepts and structures. “The prefrontal cortex is the part of the brain that tells you something might be a dangerous decision, which also happens to be a highly underdeveloped portion of the brain during teenage years. And the way we theatrically express that is having the whole cast turn into the parents,” she explained.

Other parts of the brain are also explored in the play. Senior Marissa Watanabe, another performer, noted, “The limbic system is a part of the brain that drives you to do stuff you shouldn’t do. So in a section of the play, we play “Never Have I Ever” to show that unpredictable drive.”

Hamaguchi added that she hopes the play will help adults better understand their teenage children. “I wanted to give the HBA student body an avenue to express how you guys feel and explain to your parents and adults in your life that these experiences are what you’re going through, so that we can try to understand you better and break all these assumptions people have against teenagers,” she said.

Tickets for the play can be purchased online. They are $5 for non-HBA students and all adults. Current HBA students can attend for free. The theater class wants HBA students to pre-register for the play, as they’ll be entered into a raffle to win a prize.

The promotional flyer by the Theater class for “Brainstorm.” Courtesy of Anna Hamaguchi.