The Hope and Heartache Diner had a Heartfelt Opening

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The lights went dark, phones were turned off, and the crowd was drawn into the stories of Duke’s diner.
On Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2019 Thousand Oaks High School’s theater department had its first performance of The Hope and Heartache Diner. The play is based on the stories and memories revolving around the family diner Duke’s told by the main character Felix (Freshman Aran Denis).
The play also included Felix’s passed away relatives who joined them in retelling the stories of their time at the diner as well.
The story’s main focus is change and transitioning into new stages of life, whether it means moving on to college or starting another new chapter. One section of the play featured scattered conversations of high school characters stressing about moving on in life and how scary these new transitions are.
The play was directed by Nicholas C. Pappas, who is a professor in the theater department at Moorpark College.
“It’s about people moving from part in life to another part in life and it felt pretty apt considering that the theater department is in transition since Joe Donia left, the school is sort of in transition” Pappas said, “and of course being in high school there are people starting to think of things like college or transitions that they are going through.”
Something revolutionary was the inclusion of LGBTQ+ characters. This was Thousand Oaks High’s first play featuring such. The main character, Felix is non-binary and pansexual and is on of many characters who are apart of the LGBTQ+ community.
“It’s important for actors to feel comfortable and it’s important for those watching to feel like they have a place in society, that they have worth and are valid,” said Freshman and lead of The Hope and Heartache Diner, Aran Denis.
Not only does the inclusivity allow a safer environment for the performers, the audience gets to feel that they are valid and have representation in the play.
Aside from being able to perform on a stage and share their talent, the participants in Thousand Oaks High Schools’ plays are given the teaching and resources to gain an understanding of professional theater.
“ Our goal at the college is to make it so that the second you walk out of our program you can walk into a professional theater and understand what is expected of you, how to behave, how to act, what your responsibilities are.” Pappas said.
The Hope and Heartache Diner will run at the Thousand Oaks High School Performing arts center until Saturday, Nov. 16. Not only does this play support Thousand Oaks High’s Performing Arts Department, it encourages the performers of Thousand Oaks High School to continue showing their talent.