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WDC to present 'The Humorist of Forest Leaves'

The cast of Wadena-Deer Creek High School's one-act play, "The Humorist of Forest Leaves," are, front row, from left: Taylor Dirks, Marie Hunt, Anissa Mench, Katelyn Windels, Jay Patter-son, AJ Tollefson, Samantha Kirkland, Hope Norenberg, Hope Dumpprope, Beth Schmitz and Alyssa Gilster; back row, from left: Isaac Berger, Jordan Geiser, Aaron Beck, Henry Arrigoni, Mi-chael Small, Beverly Fank, Adam Lev-erson and David Wegscheid. Photo by Dana Pavek, WDC Schools

Wadena-Deer Creek High School students will present their one-act play, "The Humorist of Forest Leaves," based on the life of American poet Emily Dickinson, on Jan. 24 in Memorial Auditorium.

According to one-act director Jay Patterson, the play focuses on Dickinson's adult life as a poet during the 1850s-1860s. Dickinson died in 1886 with almost 1,800 poems to her credit. She is considered one of the most esteemed American poets of all time, Patterson said.

"Some of these poems fit into the flow of the play and are recited by students. She has many supporting characters who were very real in her life - her younger brother, Austin, and sister, Lavinia; Benjamin Franklin Newton, an aspiring lawyer who had a romantic interest in Emily; and Samuel Bowles, an editor of the Springfield Republican newspaper. She had a lot of interests as relates to a romantic bent," said Patterson, who also wrote the one-act play.

Dickinson ended up never marrying and became a recluse toward the end of her life.

"She seldom left her bedroom. She was mysterious," Patterson explained. "Frazer Stearns was a student at Amherst College in Amherst, Mass., who volunteered for the Civil War and was killed. That loss, among many others, put Emily in an emotional tailspin. I am not sure she was ever able to reconcile death to her existence."

Patterson also said his one-act play is a series of incidental anecdotes of real-life moments for Emily. Twenty WDC students are involved in the production.

A performance for the general public will be 7:30 p.m. Jan. 24 at Memorial Auditorium. Admission is free.

The public performance serves as a warm-up for subsection competition Jan. 26 at Memorial Auditorium. Seven schools are competing to advance to the sectional contest in Park Rapids on Feb. 2.