The curtain will soon be opening on seven area schools’ One Act plays. Each play has a performance slot at sub-sections on Saturday, Jan. 25, in Memorial Auditorium. If you hope to see one of the plays, some of the schools will have public performances in the days before the sub-section.
The One Act performers at Bertha-Hewitt will share “Oh, What a Tangled Web” by John R. Carroll. There are eight student actors, one student director and a few tech members, according to choir and elementary music teacher Chelsey Schmitz.
“It’s about a girl who tries to get out of work for the day and ends up telling a lie to get out of it and then it kind of builds and builds and it turns into kind of a comedy from there,” Schmitz said.
The play will be performed for the school on Thursday, Jan. 23 and the date for a public performance was unconfirmed as of Tuesday afternoon.
“I’m looking forward to putting the whole thing together and I’ve really enjoyed working with our students who have some pretty good experience in theatre and they’ve been some really good leaders. … It’s been a fun group to work with for my first show,” Schmitz said.
New York Mills
As the sub-section approaches, New York Mills One Act advisor Leif Ronning hopes to build energy for the students involved with a public performance on Thursday, Jan. 23. The free performance is at 6 p.m. in the New York Mills school auditorium. The play is called “Don’t Fear the Reaper” by Eddie Zipperer.
“It’s about death, the Grim Reaper and how he gets terminated, and things kind of run a muck for awhile as they get him replaced,” Ronning said. “It’s really funny, there’s a god and a devil character in it and they’re both played by female characters. There’s a lot of laughs. It’s going to be a fun play.”
There are eight student actors and four behind the scenes students, according to Ronning.
“I’ve got a really great young group of very talented actors and I’m very much just looking forward to letting them get out there and shine.”
In English teacher, speech coach and One Act play director Karen Lee’s theatre production class, the students read different plays and choose the One Act. This year, the production is “12 Incompetent Jurors” by Ian McWethy.
“We are preparing ‘12 Incompetent Jurors,’ which is about a group of jurors in crisis as they try and discuss a case,” Lee said.
While there will be no public performance, the 17 cast members and two crew members will compete in the One Act sub-section in Wadena.
“It’s always fun to see performances from other schools and what they’re doing, and of course I always like to give my students an opportunity for a public performance as well,” Lee said.
The puzzle pieces of the Staples-Motley One Act will soon join together as they perform “Our Place” by Terry Gabbard, according to One Act director Lyn Vavreck.
“It’s about a special place, which is a dock on a lake, and … five different scenes of different groups of people that come out to the dock because it’s their special place,” Vavreck said.
The scenes can be seen on Friday, Jan. 17 at 7 p.m. in Centennial Auditorium, which Vavreck believes is free.
“I’m looking forward to seeing it all come together. Right now, each five groups have been practicing separately and it’s like a puzzle, we have to put it all together, and that’ll be fun to see all together,” Vavreck said. “And I love to see the other school’s plays, what they’ve come up with, it’s always fun.”
The Verndale production is “The Promise” by science teacher and drama director Kelly Youngbauer, her first play and with events from her own life.
“It’s based on a true story that occurred in my life when I was about 13 years old. It’s the story of my older brother’s journey through his addiction of alcoholism and drug addiction, and it ends well. He’s been clean and sober for over 40 years now but there were some interesting events that happened during that time period,” Youngbauer said.
Although there are 17 students involved, including Youngbauer’s son who will act as her brother in the play, not all of the members have been on the stage together because of flu-related and other absences. Youngbauer is uncertain if there will be a performance for the school and there will not be a public performance.
“I’m obviously nervous because this is the very first play I’ve ever written. I hope that it’s well received and that my kids do a good job,” Youngbauer said. “We went there (Wadena) our first year but we’ve been away for like eight years … so that’ll be kind of new for these kids because the kids that are in it now have never been to that venue.”
The magic number of 20 students, the maximum allowed for a One Act, are presenting “Nora’s Lost” by Alan Haehnel, according to drama director and English teacher Beth Hawkins.
“It’s a story about a woman with Alzheimer’s and we get to kind of enter her memories as they sort of, kind of take over her mind.”
The play includes five seniors, Michael Schmidt, Jasmyn Wood, Jeff Umland, Kamea Shreves and Maddie Olson, and Hawkins says the play is “a cool way to be able to say goodbye to them.”
“It’s their last performance and no matter what, whether we go on from sub-sections to sections to state, this is it, this will be the last play that they perform or work on in their high school career,” Hawkins said.
A public performance will take place at 7 p.m., Friday, Jan. 24, in Memorial Auditorium. The performance is free, though, people can donate to the Alzheimer's Association.
For the upcoming sub-section, Hawkins is looking forward to seeing and learning from schools close and far away.
“We get to see what they’ve put together and it’s sort of a fun little, competitive environment so that’s sort of what I look forward to is seeing what the other casts have done and just kind of learning from them as well. But then also seeing the growth that our cast has from day one to when the heat is on and when they perform, it’s incredible,” Hawkins said.
Pequot Lakes will also perform at the Wadena sub-sections on Jan. 25. They declined an interview.