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A staple in the local drama community, Audra Duvall set to direct PVHS students

Pahrump Valley High School’s new drama teacher comes in the form of a well-accomplished, experienced art director by the name of Audra Duvall.

Duvall, a mother of two PVHS students, has been involved in drama in one way or another since 2000. She’s won multiple awards and comes with a plethora of background knowledge.

Principal Desiree Veloz said she knew Duval was right for the job.

“[She] had put on a production at Rosemary Clarke Middle School (last year) and there was a lot of positive energy around it,” Veloz said.

Duvall has been a drama teacher — both directly and indirectly as a coach or club — since 2000. Every year she has found a way to direct a play or promote the arts with workshops.

She has directed multiple showcases, “The Little Mermaid,” “Grease,” “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown,” “Alice in Wonderland,” “It Was a Dark and Stormy Night,” “Omelet with Super Summer Theatre” and most recently “A Christmas Carol” (streaming film) and RCMS’ “The Phantom Tollbooth,” shown at PVHS’ theatre in March.

“Most recently I was a technical director for costumes, props, and set props for “The Lion King,” “Hairspray,” “Fame,” “Mary Poppins” and “The Wizard of Oz,” Duvall said.

Being an arts director is no small task. There are presently three drama courses being offered by PVHS, with a total of 45 kids.

PVHS pulls talent from those classes when producing a play, but students who aren’t in a drama class who audition also get a chance to showcase their talent. This brings the program’s involvement up to around 60 kids, according to Duvall.

For Duvall, organization, theme, continuity and repurposing useful tools are the biggest aspects of drama she wants her students to understand.

Putting on a play is a level above complex. Auditions alone take time — but even after casting is complete, script-learning and set-building can take several months and several thousands of dollars to put together.

“Grease” was close to $5,000 to produce, according to Duvall.

“And that was just the license to rent out the theater script and the music,”she said.

More people tend to volunteer when it’s school-related, making things a lot easier, according to Duvall.

Coming in and simply putting on plays is not how things are done as a new or even an existing drama director.

“I am new to the school and with a new theatre arts director, systems need to be put in place,” said Duvall.

Because of the many systems that need to be in place, PVHS will be putting on only one mainstage performance this year.

“You have to slowly find a way to both build trust and establish protocols in the least harmful manner possible for all parties involved,” said Duvall.

Auditions for this play should be starting very soon, according to Duvall.

“But the show itself won’t hit the mainstage until March 2023. It will be a comedy murder mystery. I am not allowed to promote it until we pay licensing — but let’s just say it is a good show and the audience, actors and tech will be pleased,” said Duvall.

John Duvall, drama club member and Duvall’s son, describes his mother as both tough and fair.

He believes if people want to truly find themselves, joining the drama club or taking the courses provided (Drama I, II and III) will change one’s life under his mother’s direction.

“Everyone should just be themselves, but if they want to challenge themselves, they should try it,” said John Duvall.

Duvall’s other son, Riley, assistant director of the Pahrump Valley High School stage production play, said, “When Duvall is directing a show, she will not only tell you the direction, but has the courage to show you what she wants.”

Patrick Billings is a freelance writer in Pahrump. Contact him at aregularbillings@gmail.com.

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