Friendship backstage, matrimony in the spotlight


Photo by Emma Short

Junior Kyler Beck stands on a ladder and observes while senior Kaamil Thobani and junior Emma Foughty rehearse a scene in Act 1 of “Our Town.” The play is unique in the sense that it does not use a traditional set or props — in this scene, the actors on ladders are implied to be ‘upstairs’ in their respective homes.

After first meeting at Jumpstreet in the fourth grade and hardly conversing, juniors Emma Foughty and Kyler Beck now find themselves in their third year of high school holding hands on the Hebron Theatre stage. 

After holding auditions for three days in the varsity theater class for the fall show, “Our Town,” new theater director Scott Crew released the cast list on Aug. 22. The document stated he had decided on Foughty playing the female lead role, Emily Gibbs, and Beck as the male lead role, George Gibbs. 

“It never hit me until I saw them together — not in the audition, but in class,” Crew said. “The way they were working together I went, ‘Oh, those kids have a connection.’ They relate to each other and they look good together. I’ll be honest, that’s part of it.”

Foughty grew up involved in choir, and is still currently in the Acappella choir. She played Flounder in “The Little Mermaid” musical her freshman year, which made her want to join her first theater class her sophomore year. 

“I don’t think I was expecting to get [the lead] because I’ve never really been in a full-on theater class before,” Foughty said. “It’s my first year in varsity, and originally, I wasn’t supposed to be in varsity. I remember getting [the cast list] on a Sunday morning and [thinking], ‘Oh wow.’ It just kind of happened.”

Unlike Foughty, Beck has done theater performances at Hebron since he was in elementary school. He performed in the 2015 performance of “Peter Pan” and the 2016 performance of “Mary Poppins” before switching to print and commercial acting outside of school for a period of time in middle school. Beck decided he wanted to pursue theater in eighth grade, and auditioned for the magnet school Booker T. Washington, where he was accepted. 

“I could talk about Booker T. for so long,” Beck said. “I took a train to downtown Dallas in the arts district every day. The campus was so nice, but it was a pretty small school that only had [about] 300 [students] per grade. When I came to football games here, I missed my friends [from Hebron], and I was not really vibing with the people [at Booker T.]”

Foughty and Beck have been acquaintances since elementary school, but really formed a close friendship their sophomore year. 

“[Last year,] we were in choir together, but we were also in the same theater class,” Foughty said. “We got each other through that year because theater was not the best last year, and we were both so passionate about it. We had a lot of time to talk and get to know each other, so we [became] really good friends.”

Beck said he agrees that having a friendship backstage aids in the connections with his co-stars in the spotlight.

“I think chemistry is a big thing when it comes to acting,” Beck said. “Knowing her for a long time and having our own connection helps with the characters. It makes for more casual talk and a more casual relationship.”

Crew said Beck and Foughty’s acting styles also match the personalities of the characters well, which guided him in making the casting decision. 

“Kyler works from the gut, [and] Emma is very cerebral, which is a wonderful contrast,” Crew said. “That is really who the characters are. The character of Emily is very cerebral, and, at the very end when she is talking about life and pondering all these questions, it’s very thoughtful, whereas the very last picture of George is him putting his gut out there — [it’s] very emotional and physical.”

Beck and Foughty will showcase their acting abilities and chemistry in the auditorium at the theater’s Oct. 7-9 performances of “Our Town.”

“Emily and George start out as best friends,” Foughty said. “They’ve known each other their whole lives, kind of like Kyler and I have. The way our relationship has worked over the past six or seven years follows the same flow as Emily and George’s relationship, except without the romance. We have to play like we’re in love which is kind of scary. I think it should be pretty easy because we are already so close, it’s just playing [as] other people [that will be difficult.]”