Arts & Entertainment

Hanford High gets help from a pro on 'Odyssey'

Hanford High drama department is tackling Homer's classic tale, The Odyssey, and has brought in a professional actor to direct the play.

Daniel Haley of Moscow works with the Shakespearean festival in Ashland, Ore. When he isn't performing, Haley teaches acting to high school students visiting the festival.

"This was my first introduction to the Hanford High Drama program," Haley told the Herald. "After teaching their group a mutual friend of mine, and former Hanford High grad, introduced me to Matt (Leggett.)"

He and Hanford's drama teacher hit it off from the start, Haley said. "Matt recognized my strength as an educator and after seeing two of my shows asked if I'd be willing to guest direct at Hanford," he said.

Haley leaped at the chance to direct a high school production and he and Leggett decided on The Odyssey.

"I wanted to bring in a professional to our program to give students experience of a professional nature," Leggett said. "I met Daniel a year ago. He is a great guy who is full of creative energy and has a dynamic personality. He also has a heart for young people and is very inspiring."

Leggett also is expanding Hanford High's drama program and hopes Haley's expertise will entice even more student participation.

"This version of the play has been a challenge for me as a director and designer because of the minimalist approach I decided we would take," Haley said. "I opted to highlight the story and the creativity of the actors by stripping away any and all unnecessary scenery."

That left more creativity and unbridled playfulness among the students, he added.

"It's inspiring and propels the story. With only four bamboo poles, a few boxes and a little imagination, audiences will be riveted as this epic story invents and unfolds itself right before their eyes," Haley said.

The lead roles are played by Robin Coppock as Odysseus, Katie Johnson as Penelope, Kyle Sweet as Telemechus and Jeremy Coppock as the old mysterious traveler.

The Odyssey is at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 6-7 in the school's Black Box Theater, next to the auditorium at Hanford High, off George Washington Way on Hanford Avenue in Richland.

Tickets are $7 for adults and $5 for students and are available at the school office or at the door.

*Dori O'Neal: 582-1514;