Lemont’s Performance in the Round makes history

PIR pushes the boundaries of the virtual circle to share an impactful message.


Nour Longi

Director Leslie Kane initially considered the script “I Don’t Want to Talk About It” for the drama club. Kane fell in love with the message and how adaptable the script was to a virtual setting; she decided to cut it as a PIR. Kane explained the script would not work in an in person PIR— it was perfect for this year’s circumstances.

Nour Longi

For the first time in history, the school’s Performance in the Round, or PIR, has advanced to the IHSA state final. On Feb. 14, the PIR placed second at the Burbank Sectional after receiving a historic first place finish at the Joliet Central Regional the week prior. The school’s PIR has only champed regionals once before in 2010.

The Burbank Sectional was extremely competitive. Lemont’s PIR beat out state-winning programs, like Southland College Prep, Reavis, and Oak Lawn.

A cast composed of six novices (first year on speech) and one sophomore performed “I Don’t Want to Talk About It”. The script follows the story of highschooler, Kyle, who commits suicide, to give the audience an insight into the complex interworkings of a teenager’s mind that hides behind a superficial facade of a stereotypical teen. The performance urges the audience to simply talk. 

“ I love combining mental health and the arts,” said director Leslie Kane. “The topic is so real and poignant— now more than ever, people are experiencing feeling isolated.”

The Speech Team has competed in PIR in the IHSA state series for over a decade, but has failed to advance any past sectionals.

“I think we came out of nowhere; people were probably so surprised to see Lemont advance,” said Kane.

Performance in the Round is the 15th speech event, that only competes during the state series. Traditionally PIR is a miniature play performed in a circle surrounded by an audience. 

Because of  Covid-19 guidelines, PIR was adapted to a virtual setting. Teams submitted screen recordings of Zoom preformances for judging. This alteration completely changed the dynamic of the competition— paving an opportunity for Lemont to succeed.  

 In previous years, the winning PIRs had amazing performances and scripts embellished with elaborate costumes, makeup, orchestras, and sets. Lemont did not have the resources to include such extremities. 

This year, however, the performances are stripped down to impact of the acting and how well schools could adapt to a virtual setting. 

Lemont’s PIR thrived in a virtual setting. The cast worked hard to fight the limitations of poor internet connection and laggy audio to master group lines and ques.
“We really had to get creative on how to be engaging without a live audience,” said Kane.

In addition to a timely script, what sets Lemont’s PIR above others were creative details to enhance the online performance. The performance includes creative blocking to pass valentines, and mimic a shooting range. The entire cast wears bright colors, except the main character, who is dealing with dark mental health issues. The cast covered their cameras during certain scenes and held up posters and props to create the feeling of an ensemble. 

Judges also fawned over Freshman Alana Nisperos’, who plays Kyle, acting skills. “I never really thought I was good at acting or portraying emotions, it gave me a lot of confidence in my abilities.”

Nisperos and her teammates Maximillian Schuette, Toni Sarussi, Tess O’Brien, Lukas Petraitis, Daniel Irace, and Emily Hunnewell felt as if their success proved what underclassmen are capable of. The PIR will compete at the IHSA Speech State Final on Feb. 20, along with senior Nour Longi in Radio Speaking and sophomore Elle Jeffress in Poetry.