PLAYBILLDER Spotlight: Mutually Assured Destruction Created 'Priceless' Joy for These California High Schoolers | Playbill

Related Articles
Education News PLAYBILLDER Spotlight: Mutually Assured Destruction Created 'Priceless' Joy for These California High Schoolers

Estancia High School's era-hopping student-directed production fostered bonds and skills to last a lifetime.

Welcome to this week's PLAYBILLDER Spotlight, a new Playbill initiative highlighting shows and events from educational institutions around the country (who have used Playbill's program-building service). By welcoming these PLAYBILLDERs center stage, we hope to give our readers a more in-depth look at theatre programs that are fostering the love of the performing arts in the next generation.

This week's featured school is Estancia High of Costa Mesa, California, and their production of Mutually Assured Destruction. The comedy, written by Don Zolidis, chronicles a century's worth of sibling squabbles over 10 vignettes. Set entirely in a living room, the short plays showcase the undeniable bond between brothers and sisters as they navigate everything from parental separation to daring escapes. 

Visual & Performing Arts Teacher Amber Marroquin shared with Playbill why she sees the performing arts as a safe space for her students and what lifelong skills her students cultivated through directing, performing, and PLAYBILLDing. 

Guide: How To Build Your Own Custom Program with PLAYBILLDER

Cast and Crew of Estancia High School's Mutually Assured Destruction

How many years have you been teaching?
Amber Marroquin: This is my second year teaching. I love teaching at my alma mater and find so much joy in building relationships with my students.

What is your proudest moment as an educator?
It's truly challenging to single out just one moment of pride when it comes to my students. Every day, each one experiences a triumph of their own. Pride always overwhelms me as I witness them taking their bow together on the opening night of a production. It's the culmination of countless hours of hard work and growth throughout the entire process. As they stand there, hand in hand, taking in the applause, they're not just individuals but a cohesive ensemble, being celebrated for the collective art they've brought to life. Witnessing the joy radiating from their's simply priceless!

Can you share a little bit about the value you see in having a performing arts program in schools?
I strongly believe that having a performing arts program is essential in student success, both on and off the stage. Students learn many interdisciplinary skills through theatre, such as public speaking, discipline, and collaboration skills. Most importantly, theatre provides a safe environment where students can step beyond their comfort zones, fostering personal growth and self-discovery. Our theatre program is a place where students will meet their closest friends and accomplish things larger than anything else they’ve ever done before.

Cast of Estancia High School's Mutually Assured Destruction

What made you pick the show? How do you choose shows for your students?
I choose productions that truly showcase our students' talents. Each show selection aims to highlight their strengths as an ensemble while also presenting opportunities for growth and challenge. Mutually Assured Destruction is a vignette-style production which delves into the bond of siblings. It was chosen with a specific aim in mind: fostering leadership, accountability, and fun among our students.

What are the kids loving about the show?
The cast and crew loved the lively comedy! They could see themselves in the characters and enjoyed using physicality in these era-hopping vignettes. Additionally, it was a great opportunity for them to hone collaboration skills under a student director's guidance.

This show was student directed by two seniors, Isabella Zuniga and Joshua Garcia. Joshua reflected on his experience, saying, “Being able to direct M.A.D. has been one of the best experiences I’ve had in drama yet. Seeing everything from a different perspective has truly made me realize how important it is to work well with others alongside you and how fun it can be.”

Isabella added, “I had an amazing time learning and growing so much from this experience, and I am eager to take these skills with me wherever I go next year for college, and throughout my life in general.”

Student directors Isabella Zuniga and Joshua Garcia

How did the students participate in the design or production of this Playbill?
Several students contributed to the creation of the Playbill, gaining valuable skills in media design, deadline management, and organization. Jose Gomez took charge of designing the poster and Playbill cover. He refined his ideas through drafting, accepted feedback, and creating multiple revisions to ensure it captured the essence of the production. 

Meanwhile, Keila Mendez utilized PLAYBILLDER to create the layout and content within the Playbill. Keila gathered and structured the content, resulting in a wonderful Playbill! 

For a seamless design process, head to for your next show's program. Who knows, you might just be featured in our next PLAYBILLDER Spotlight!

Today’s Most Popular News:

Blocking belongs
on the stage,
not on websites.

Our website is made possible by
displaying online advertisements to our visitors.

Please consider supporting us by
whitelisting with your ad blocker.
Thank you!