Raider profile: Senior Harrison Corthell

SC 17 Corthell, Harrison

Harrison Corthell

What’s your name? Harrison Corthell. People call me Harry. Although I’m just realizing what a cool name Harrison is.

Where are you from? Since I am a twin and we arrived a month and a half premature, I was born in Boston! My family was living in Exeter, N.H. at the time. We moved to Fryeburg in March of 2012.

Who are your people? My father is Mike Corthell. My parents were divorced and my mother, Ann Logan, passed away when I was 12. I have a twin brother, Mitchell, who is also a senior here at Fryeburg Academy. I have a younger sister, Taylor, age 14, who lives in Orleans, Mass., an older sister, Jackie, who is a senior at Plymouth State, and an older brother, Ryan, 33.

That must have terrible for you to lose your mother at such a young age? I know I’m not alone in losing a parent. It’s more common than you think. It changed me, yes. It’s also made me more self-reliant.

Are you a good student academically? Yes pretty good. I struggle with math quite a bit. I’m actually not good at math in any way shape or form. I am an honor student just the same.

What about athletics at FA? I don’t play any sports. I am strictly artistic. However, when I was directing one-acts at FA, I did make the cast and crew go for a 20-minute run every day for focus. If I did do athletics, it would probably be cross-country. I see the merits of physical activity, just have never participated in FA athletics or team sports.

How about clubs and other extracurriculars? My number one extracurricular is theater. I’m a member of the FA PAC Rats…sort of a loose name for the kids that hang at FA’s Performing Arts Center (dubbed the PAC Rats by FA Senior Liz Dyer). I started FA as a junior and had been in high school theater since seventh grade because my sister got me involved at Kingswood High School (Wolfeboro, N.H.) when they needed someone to run the spotlight. And that got me hooked. I started doing technical theater (lighting, sound) once I was at Kingswood, which is a school known for its excellent theater program. I got roped into acting at their one-act festival. I was hesitant about moving to Fryeburg because I thought I’d be lost without Kingswood’s theater program. But it’s turned out great and the move was all worthwhile. In the last two years, I’ve acted in Private Lives, was the technical director for Seussical the Musical, and just wrapped directing this year’s one-act play, The 39 Steps. Editor’s note — it was outstanding!

Talk about this year’s production of The 39 Steps? Well, it entailed lots of sleepless nights.  I pitched the script to Ms. Fox (FA’s chairwoman of Fine Arts). She was totally behind me. I cast the play, crewed the play and designed the set. I was the communicator and organizer. Maeve Gurnis was my assistant director. She focused more on the acting. We are all trying to do another show before the end of the year. My philosophy is that I believe the theater program should be student-run and student-based. The technical people, stage master, prop master, all should be students. I feel that’s where kids get to learn how theater really works and how hard theater really is, and, ultimately, how to pull off a show. It’s so important to learn how to be organized. At the regional competition, the judges commented on our diction. When we cast Robinson Jiang in one of the lead roles in The 39 Steps, we had to work with him on his diction. He is Chinese. In the end I really believe he had the best diction of any of our actors because he was so focused and conscious about every syllable. Robinson is a fantastic actor.

Who are your favorite teachers at FA? Definitely Ms. Fox. She is my #1 backer for everything I envision for the theater program. During my junior year, she taught me how to be a better writer in her AP English. She has taught me how to direct better, how to be a better thespian and to appreciate theater more. Whit Lucy (FA’s former technical director at the Leura Hill Eastman Performing Arts Center) has always been a good confidante and good team player when it came to theater. He helped teach me to make my better lighting decisions. Ms. Mayo (FA’s Head of School) is pretty rad. She definitely has a good vision for the Academy and is an excellent teacher. I am in her AP literature class.

Looking back at your two years at FA what is your assessment? I feel strongly that for the kids that have the drive, the experience of the Academy is a fantastic one. The teachers and the staff are so committed to helping kids who have a drive to succeed. I do think that for the kids that don’t have a lot of drive…well they may be overlooked. Most all of my close friends understand the fantasticness of FA.

What’s your answer for the kids who don’t have the drive? I don’t really have the answer but I would say to the Academy, try this — focus more on kids that need more drive with more student empowerment. Try to level the playing field. Give kids the chance to explore and make their own decisions in a constructive way. In the theater program, making students leaders taught organization and communication and we valued student ideas. No student should be scared of sharing their ideas ever. Some of those ideas got us placed at Regionals. It’s about making kids know they matter. It’s a common problem. If you respect the education you’re getting, you’ll respect the teacher/school. It all comes back to giving kids a voice in the community. It will tighten the bond of the Academy. I’d like to see the dorm and day students become more unified.

What is your political bent? I tend to vote Democratic. I am a full supporter of gay marriage and human rights in all areas.

How about hobbies? I’m a reader.

What’s your favorite book? The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom. And I love anything by Stephen King. We’ve lived here for two years and I’m still on the search for him. My favorite King book is The Shining. His new book, Doctor Sleep is fantastic. Right now I’m reading The Buddha of Suburbia by Hanif Kureish and it is very good. It’s a coming of age book about a gay kid in London.

What music do you like? I was raised on classic rock. My dad is 62 if that tells you anything! He definitely taught me about his love of classic rock and that’s all I listened to until I was in middle school. My musical horizons have expanded. Now, I’m into anything except really deep country.

What’s your favorite movie? I really like movies and entertainment. My favorite directors are Stanley Kubrick, Ridley Scott and David Fincher. Fincher did Fight Club and Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I like thought-provoking, artistic films like A Clockwork Orange, and Kill Your Darlings.

Do you have a message for your father as you begin to leave the nest? Yes, don’t worry about me. I’ll be okay.

What is your plan after graduation? I’ll be the assistant director of the Denmark Arts Center again this summer. It’s my third year there. Then in August, I leave for Salt Lake City where I will be attending Westminster College for technical theater. I visited Westminster last week and absolutely loved it!

What does your future hold after college?  My ultimate job would be anything that combined traveling the world and teaching theater. I’d love to become a high school drama teacher because that is where I was inspired. I’d like to inspire other kids to love theater — but if I could travel at the same time I’d be pretty darned happy. I’d love to go to Scotland, Alaska, Asia and definitely India. Eventually, I want to come back to New England.

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