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One-Act examines the elderly

Haley Kellogg rehearses her role as Sylvia Simmons for the one-act play "Memories of the Way We Were," which will be performed for the public Jan. 28 at Memorial Auditorium and in competition for the first time Jan. 30.1 / 3
Tess Kirkland's character, Babe Nordby, encourages the other characters to practice their reading of Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice."2 / 3
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A tight-knit cast of Wadena-Deer Creek drama students are preparing for this season's competitive one-act play, "Memories of the Way We Were," an original production by English teacher Jay Patterson.

Haley Kellogg, Kelsi Vorderbruggen, Maddie Eckman, Britta Moen and Tess Kirkland portray five women in their 80s who dream of being in their 20s again.

"It's a very serious play [and] it's a very comedic play as well," Patterson said.

Visits to the assisted living facility where his 88-year-old mother-in-law lives inspired the story line, Patterson said.

"When I visit her at coffee time all the residents are busy discussing the mundane, the weather and miscellaneous other things," he said. "In the process of listening to all of this, I decided to create this story about the memories of the way they were."

The musical accent throughout the play is the song "Dreams," which was a hit for the big band group The Pied Pipers in the 1940s, he said.

Kellogg likes the way the music sets the mood for the play, she said. She likes that there's comedy in it, but then the play gets serious.

Her great-grandmother, whom Kellogg describes as a "very elegant older lady," inspires her portrayal of her character, Sylvia Simmons, she said.

Both of her grandmothers inspired Moen's performance of her character, Betsy Kilmer, she said. They have very different personalities.

The small cast also includes one male performer. Josiah Berger portrays the maintenance man who works in the assisted living facility where the women live.

The one-act play experience is completely different from the fall play, Vorderbruggen said. The fall play has so many scenes and so many people that each student only gets their particular scene worked on a couple of times. With the one-act, they're there each day "hammering the scenes," she said.

"We can go two hours on two scenes," Vorderbruggen said.

The first competition will take place Jan. 30. The first performance of the play will take place on Jan. 28 at Memorial Auditorium and the public is invited to attend. The drama-filled evening will begin at 7:30 p.m. with a performance of another one-act play, "Hurry Up and Wait."

Patterson decided to add a second play this year to allow more students who are interested in drama to participate.

"I knew that if I was going to solely work with one play all those kids would be out the experience," he said. "So this is a chance for them to expand their experience, to polish their skills.

The play is a "spoofy, comedic journey through moments when people want things to happen faster than they should," Patterson said.

The students performing in "Hurry Up and Wait" are: Zach Norenberg, Angie Lorentz, Taylor Snyder, AJ Tollefson, Brad Becker, Matt Fank, Henry Arrigoni, Austin Korkowski, Katie Rokenbrodt, Samantha Kirkland and Isaac Berger.

Lindsey Juers, Keri Monson and Hadley Boline will provide technical support for both plays.

Admission to the Jan. 28 performances is free and open to the public, Patterson said.