The Last Act
Features

The Last Act

By Mylee Jones

It was during auditions for a production of “You Can’t Take it With You” at the Muncie Civic Theatre in 1998  when she was not chosen for the role she wanted. Through conversation, she met someone in the same boat as her.

Her future husband.

It makes for a fun story, especially the reason we were not cast in the roles we auditioned for: the director didn’t feel we had chemistry!” Mrs. Dawn Raleigh said.

Mrs. Raleigh is not only a teacher at Delta High School, she also directs the school plays. She has overseen 24 plays at Delta and a few more as co-director at the Muncie Civic Theatre.

Mrs. Raleigh
Mrs. Raleigh will retire at the end of this school year. (Photo Provided)

In March, “Larceny and Old Lace” was her last school production.

She will retire at the end of this school year after teaching at Delta for 22 years. She said she is at the point where she wants a life outside of education and to do other things.

“It’s not an easy decision, but it’s time,” Mrs. Raleigh said.

After retirement she wants to do more projects around her home and maybe travel.

According to Mrs. Raleigh, her mom once told her that teaching “is a series of one-act plays, because you don’t know what your audience is going to be, you don’t know how the material is going to go over.”

She said she will miss the people she works with and the students. 

She said her daughter, sophomore Sammi Raleigh, is not very happy about not having her at school all four years. Mrs. Raleigh thinks it will be good for both of them because it will give Sammi time to shine on her own.

Sammi said that she will miss having her mom there and just being able to talk to her throughout the day. 

Mrs. Raleigh’s favorite part of directing plays and teaching the students is just working with them.

 “I’ve always enjoyed seeing the kids get more confident,” she said.

Mrs. Raleigh said that it makes them feel that it is easier to be a character rather than themselves. You have to have passion for it and be willing to participate. 

She wants her students to get involved in something like plays because of the level of confidence they get out of it and the sense of accomplishment.

Cast on stage
Mrs. Raleigh poses with the cast of Clue in the spring of 2020. This was the final play before Covid. Clue is one of 24 plays directed by Mrs. Raleigh in her time at Delta. (Photo Provided)

To put on a play it takes “a lot of time, a lot of dedication, blood, sweat, tears,” Mrs. Raleigh said.

When they are performing, there is a sense of worry. If they mess up during a live performance they can’t do anything about it, so it is a relief when they get through it.

Many people don’t see the behind the scenes. Raleigh said people don’t see the emotional breakdowns and how much time they spend rehearsing. 

The latest she stayed was around 4 a.m., and the students were there till about 1 a.m. one time. When she got home she took a refreshing shower and then went straight back to the school. 

She doesn’t necessarily have a favorite play she has put on, but she has a most meaningful one. When the class did the production of “The Diary of Anne Frank” during the school year of 2014-2015, they had a small but tight-knit cast.

“We spent a lot of hours together, and we spent a lot of tears together,” Mrs. Raleigh said.

The play is the story of Anne Frank, a Jewish teenage girl who wrote a diary when she was hiding from the Nazis during the Holocaust. She hid for about 2 years with her family before they raided the building and found them. The father Otto Frank was the only one who survived.

Poster for Anne Frank
One of the most memorable plays in Mrs. Raleigh’s career was the 2014-2015 production of The Diary of Anne Frank. (Photo Provided)

In one of the early rehearsals, Mrs. Raleigh made the actors leave all their belongings in her room. They then all moved to a classroom that nobody was using that was completely empty. 

They were told to stay in character at all times so they couldn’t leave or talk. 

After an hour and a half they were released. The next day they did a debriefing about how uncomfortable it made them and how hard it was to keep quiet. 

They did this activity to simulate Anne Frank and her family hiding and being quiet so the Nazis could not discover them.

“The actors gained a tremendous amount of understanding and compassion through this experience, and it absolutely enhanced their performance,” Mrs. Raleigh said.

She said she has been interested in the events of World War II, which contributed to her attachment to this play. 

Researching their stories and spending that time it all became real to them.

“We bonded over the emotional journey we endured through working on ‘The Diary of Anne Frank,’” Mrs. Raleigh said.

She has always liked being on stage. Her English teacher, Mr. Kip Omstead, at the time said that she was so quiet in class, but a whole new person on stage.

Junior Jax Hines has done theater every year she’s been in high school. She says she is going to miss the experience and that she has made wonderful friendships.

According to Jax, one of Mrs. Raleigh’s best traits is “her drive — if something goes wrong, and it always does, she is able to get back up and find a solution. … She always finds a way to power through it.”

Eden Terry, a senior who has acted in five plays at Delta, says, “Her dedication is amazing. No matter what’s going on, she’s always there and willing to put in whatever it takes to get the job done.”

There are many memories on stage and behind the scenes. Sabrina Cheek, a senior, said the last show was one of her favorite memories because it was a bittersweet moment.

Mrs. Raleigh said she doesn’t have one specific favorite memory, but she said, “I am proud of the fact that I have been able to touch so many people.” 

April 23, 2024

About Author

Mylee Jones

myleejones Mylee Jones is a freshman at Delta High School. She enjoys going to the lake and spending time with her friends and likes to listen to music.


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