In a generic high school movie, stereotypes run rampant, from the pink clad popular chicks to the acne prone nerds. They are all stuck in their roles, and those who dare to step out of that role face severe repercussions.
Two major stereotyped groups are the athletes and the theater kids. The former are powerful and masculine, although sometimes stuck up and lacking in intelligence. The latter, typically regarded as more feminine, are creative and expressive freaks, occasionally seen with brightly colored hair and strongly applied makeup.
However, despite the image of unbreakable group boundaries, there are multiple students at Coppell High School who ignore contrasting stereotypes and participate in both the athletic and theater departments.
Coppell High School sophomore Matthew O’Quinn was on the freshman White football team while also being in Take One, the select freshman theater class. While he is currently no longer playing football, he is in Fame, the musical theater class.
The idea of it affecting his masculinity does not faze him.
“You can have a masculine presence in theater,” O’Quinn said. “It’s needed, actually, for theater to succeed. It’s easy for boys to get into theater and it would be nice to have more.”
Musical theater holds even more distinct stereotypes than general theater, as it encompasses singing and dancing in addition to acting. It is a sharp contrast from the hypermasculine football, but instead of ever feeling made fun of for his participation, O’Quinn said he has always felt a lot of support.
“I’m definitely not judged for being an actor,” O’Quinn said. “There is a good amount of support from friends and family, but I am definitely not judged whatsoever.”
Sophomore Colin Proctor is also an actor. He was in the same Take One class as O’Quinn and is currently in the non-musical acting class, Broadway Bound. He is also a member of the JV cross country team.
“I’m supported in all of it,” Proctor said. “We have so many choices in what we want to do here. [CHS] isn’t really biased towards anyone. Some people want to do theater, and they’re fine with it. [Other] people want to do math or science or football, and they’re cool with it, whatever they want to do.”
Proctor has done many things in his theater class that would not be considered masculine, including wearing a long haired wig for a scene from the 1746 commedia dell’arte “The Servant of Two Masters” where he played Brighella. Despite this, he has never felt like his masculinity has been threatened in any way.
“When you’re in theater, you’re acting as someone else,” Proctor said. “You’re not being yourself. While I’m in theater, I’m a different character.”
Although it is not acting, technical theater is very much still a part of the theater department. Sophomore Will Kraus both works as a tech student and plays safety on the JV Red football team.
Though many of his friends are often surprised to hear that he is a part of tech theater, Kraus finds it to be an important part of his life.
“It opens up my range a little,” Kraus said. “I don’t feel very feminine because I’m in tech theater, I just feel like I am me.”
Kraus also finds the concepts of group stereotypes to be unnecessary and ridiculous.
“You shouldn’t judge people for what they like to do,” Kraus said. “If they like to [play] football, then let them [play] football. If they like to do tech theater, or any theater, then let them do that.”
The shared positive experience of the three students serve as a testament to the culture of CHS where individuality is promoted.
“Here at Coppell, people seem to be pretty supported,” CHS theater director Karen Ruth said. “The community as a whole seems to support these talented, wonderful students, however they come and whatever they’re doing, and that’s great. I am lucky to be here and the kids are lucky to be here too.”
Students have the opportunity to truly explore who they are, even if that means crossing into areas traditionally kept separate. The predefined group borders, though heavily enforced in movies, are often broken in CHS, where a student can dance from the stage to a field without feeling like anything less than who they are.
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