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Woodbury High School's one act play, "The Story of Persephone" is a retelling of the Greek myth "Persephone," which tells the story of a Greek goddess who is abducted by the God of the Underworld Hades.
Woodbury High School's one act play, "The Story of Persephone" is a retelling of the Greek myth "Persephone," which tells the story of a Greek goddess who is abducted by the God of the Underworld Hades.

District One Act Festival is Jan. 20 at East

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Woodbury Minnesota 8420 City Centre Drive 55125

District 833's three high schools typically find themselves facing off in sports, but in theater?

Woodbury, East Ridge and Park high schools will be squaring off Jan. 24 in the annual One Act Play Competition at East Ridge.

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But before that gets under way, District 833 schools will perform non-competitively Jan. 20 for the third-annual District One Act Festival on the Loft Stage at East Ridge.

East Ridge will perform "The Break of Noon," Woodbury will perform "The Story of Persephone" and Park will perform "Antigone."

"It gives us an opportunity to work together," East Ridge one act director Katie Carlson said.

The competition aspects won't be entirely taken out though, since a representative from the Minnesota State High School League will be on hand to offer critiques to each of the schools for help in the competition.

"Right before competition they'll get some good feedback," Carlson said.

Additionally, the representative will explain the one act process to the audience in between performances.

"What better way to educate the audience than have someone to talk about the shows and talk about the process," Carlson said.

A Greek love story

WHS' one act play this year is "The Story of Persephone," which is based off the Greek myth "Persephone."

The original Greek myth tells the story of the Greek goddess Persephone who is abducted by Hades, god of the underworld. Persephone's mother Demeter, the goddess of nature, is grief stricken by the loss of her daughter, which in turn causes the seasons to change.

"Hopefully it will be blizzarding out when I do this show," WHS one act director Karen Morrill-Bryan said, "or at least snowing."

However, in WHS' version, Persephone becomes a strong willed woman, rather than the helpless damsel in distress, Morrill-Bryan said.

"It's a bit of a reclaiming of the myth for the voice of women," she said. "In the myth, when Persephone is abducted, she doesn't have a role in what happens to her, but we've given her all the attributes of a strong willed passionate young woman who has quite a bit to do with what happens."

Additionally in the WHS adaptation, the story of Persephone and Hades veers away from the abduction angle in favor of a love story.

"I really wanted to tell a love story," Morrill-Bryan said. "I wanted to explore the idea of love and what it is to a teenager."

Morrill-Bryan said she chose the play this year because she is a fan of Greek tragedies and felt it was a good chance to explore Persephone's relationships with both Hades and Demeter.

"Even though these are gods and goddesses, we are playing them like they're authentic real people," she said. "

Morrill-Bryan said she thinks her students have the talent to be contenders at this year's one act competition.

"If we reach the vision we have for it, I think we have a good chance," she said.

A story of redemption

East Ridge's one act play this year is "The Break of Noon," which tells the story of a businessman living in modern day Manhattan who is the sole survivor of a shooting at his office building.

After the shooting, the businessman decides he wants to change his life for the better by trying to make amends to people from his past.

"It's this moral struggle about trying to find out what is right and wrong in the world," Carlson said.

Carlson said she chose "Break of Noon" for this year's one act play because it was a complete contrast to the lighthearted and bright comedy that the school did last year.

"I want to offer the students a lot of opportunities and this show is much more contemporary and dramatic," she said.

Carlson said the show has proven challenging for some of the students because they have to get inside the mind of very complex and mature adult characters.

"Trying to get these young high school actors to bring on that persona of an adult who have experienced a lot of different things in life can be challenging," she said. "There's just so much depth to these characters."

Carlson said she has been working a lot with the students on their acting techniques, primarily being able to get in touch with their emotions and be real on stage.

Carlson said she is hopeful that the show reaches audiences, whether or not they move in the competition.

"I feel that we have a strong show, but art is so subjective," she said. "This show has a really powerful message and theater is meant to move people, so it's a good feeling to have a message to share with an audience like that."

The District One Act Festival will be Jan. 20 at 6:30 p.m. at the Loft Stage at East Ridge High School. Tickets are $5 at the door.

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