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Three district schools show one act plays this Friday

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There definitely is a competitive element to the annual Minnesota State High School League one act play competition, but there’s support, also.

“Yes, it’s competitive, but this what I love about theater, theater people support each other,” said Marcie Berglund, Woodbury High School’s one act play director. “Even if its competitive they will be encouraging and supportive.”

All three of District 833 high schools will take the competitive element completely out of the one act play for one night only on Friday, Jan. 22, for the annual One Act Play Festival.

The festival, which will begin at 6:30 p.m. at Woodbury High School, will feature all three plays: WHS will present “The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg,” East Ridge High School will present William Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night,” and Park High School will present The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds.” Tickets are $5 each.

“I love to see what the other schools are doing,” Berglund said. “It’s great for all the casts to get together and support each other because they all know the hard work that kids put in to make this product.”

The competition

The Minnesota State High School League One Act Play Competition sees schools from around the state being judged on different criteria including physical characterizations, vocal characterizations, technical elements, educational value, and overall effectiveness of ensemble.

“It’s so subjective,” Berglund said. “Even if you perform it perfectly, it could really come down to whether the judges liked the play.”

The plays must also follow a set of rules that include time limits, number of cast members and set.

Each show will have a maximum of 35 minutes to perform, with an additional 10 minutes for setup and five minutes for takedown. Each show can have a maximum of 20 students involved, including cast and crew.

“Theater is competition, especially in the professional world,” said Francine Verschaetse, East Ridge’s one act director. “The one act introduces students to that world.”

East Ridge and WHS will compete in their first round on Jan. 26 at Eagan High School. Park will compete Jan. 27 at Eagan High School.

“Our district historically has done very well so it’s nice to see what they’re bringing to the table,” Verschaetse said. “All three schools do something drastically different, so it’s nice to be a part of that team.”

Celebrating Shakespeare

While East Ridge is competing with Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night,” the school is also performing a second Shakespeare one act just for fun.

From Feb. 5-7, East Ridge will host three nights of Shakespeare at the school when it not only performs “Twelfth Night” but also “The Comedy of Errors.”

“Twelfth Night” is a comedy of gender confusion, in which a girl disguises herself as a man to be near the count she adores, only to be pursued by the woman he loves.

“The Comedy of Errors” is about two sets of identical twins, separated at birth and brought together by circumstance.

“By going Shakespearean it’s a chance to help them get a hold of that text and make Shakespeare an achievable thing for students,” Verschaetse said. “How can we keep it light and fun while still digging into some serious acting work?”

East Ridge will be presenting a unique interpretation of “Twelfth Night” through the use of black and white comedia makeup, modern music and androgynous clothing.

“It’s not the typical Shakespeare you’ve seen,” Verschaetse said. “It’s a quirky, zany style of Shakespeare that I hope they can appreciate and see it for what it is, students making art.”

East Ridge junior Erin Foy said she is excited about East Ridge’s interpretation of “Twelfth Night” as well as seeing what other schools come up with.

“Every school can do their own interpretation of whatever show they want,” she said. “It’s really interesting to see different people’s takes on the shows.”

‘The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg’

Berglund said she selected “The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg,” which is based on a short story by Mark Twain, for WHS’s one act play because it has a lot of challenging elements for students.

“It’s a show I’ve had my eye on for a long time,” she said.

“The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg” is about a man who comes to Hadleyburg, a town well known for its humility and righteousness.

“The stranger” however is not treated very well, so he decides to get revenge on the town by trying to corrupt it.

“To make a long story short it is about hypocrisy,” Berglund said.

A unique element to “The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg” is that the majority of the cast will be playing dual characters. In fact, many girls will be portraying men or boys.

Additionally, the entire cast will remain on stage throughout the entire performance.

In watching “The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg,” Berglund said, judges will hopefully see cohesive stage movement, actors utilizing skills, confidence and will hopefully “see something kind of different.”

WHS juniors William Vouk and Sidney Price said the competitive element adds a whole new dimension to theater.

“It’s a lot of fun but it’s a lot more pressure also,” Vouk said.

“It’s definitely a different dynamic having in addition the drive to succeed the drive to compete,” Price said.

Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

(651) 702-0976
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