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Three shows for one in District 833 One Act Play Festival

East Ridge High School's One Act play will be "The Big Meal."1 / 2
Woodbury High School's One Act play is "Snit."2 / 2

The One Act play competition can be a fairly competitive one among high school theater programs, but District 833 is taking out the competitive side next week.

The annual District 833 One Act Play Festival, where all three high schools perform, will be at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 25 at East Ridge High School's Loft Stage.

Woodbury High School students will perform "Snit," East Ridge students will perform "The Big Meal" and Park High School will perform "Antigone."

"The festival is about just enjoying each other's work," said WHS One Act director Tyler Olsen. "It's not about the competition. It's about seeing all the hard work each of these schools has put in."

Competitive theater

In one-act play competitions, Minnesota schools follow rules and judges choose which school moves on to the next round of competition.

Judges consider physical characterizations, vocal characterizations, technical elements, educational value and overall effectiveness of ensemble.

The One Act play competition also has a set of rules and regulations that entrants must follow in such areas as length, costuming, sets, makeup and transitions.

WHS will compete in the One Act semifinals at East Ridge on Jan. 22 against Bloomington Kennedy High School, Bloomington Jefferson High School, Eagan High School and South St. Paul High School.

East Ridge and Park will compete Jan. 23 at East Ridge against Johnson High School, Tartan High School and Burnsville High School.

'Meals,' a 'Snit'

East Ridge's One Act play "The Big Meal" follows the life of a husband and wife and their children.

Every scene of the play revolves around a meal and a major life event.

"The entire play is a metaphor for life," One Act director Katie Carlson said. "When you're served, a major life event happens."

The play spans 90 years.

Carlson said she chose "The Big Meal" for the festival this year because it is a good combination of comedy and drama.

"It's a unique style," she said, "so, I thought it would bring new challenges.

"Plus, I think it's important for a show to have a message - theater is about life and it speaks to life."

Carlson said the biggest challenge for the show has been trying to cut scenes for time because every character in the play is important to the story.

"If I cut out the birth of a character, I cut plot points out over the next 30 years," she said.

Carlson said she believes "The Big Meal" will stand out in competition because it's unique.

"It's something different, something fresh," she said. "I'm hopeful that the play will be refreshing for audiences and judges."

WHS decided to take a unique approach to the one act play this year since it was written collaboratively by students and the play director.

"Snit" is a retelling of the Greek myth about the labyrinth and the minotaur through the lens of bullying.

"Rather than retelling a myth, we're using characters from a myth and turning it," Olsen said. "They're not telling the myth that everyone knows."

Olsen said he decided to use the theme of bullying to tell the story because it correlated perfectly with the minotaur.

"He's essentially done nothing wrong except be born looking different," he said. "He became to be known as this monster because he was different."

In addition to the minotaur, Olsen also incorporated "the fates" from Greek mythology into the story.

"The fates are the endless tormenters," Olsen said. "I couldn't find a better bully than that."

Olsen said he decided to write his own take on a Greek myth because he wanted to make it unique.

"I wasn't interested in telling the same story," he said. "We're taking those characters and using the myth as a jumping off point."

Olsen said the biggest challenges with this year's play are the technical elements, specifically the labyrinth.

"It will be pretty magical if we pull it off," he said.

Olsen said it's hard to guess what their chances will be this year.

"I'm hoping we're going to be a strong contender," he said. "But you never know with these things because they're so open to interpretation."

Carlson and Olsen said they are both looking forward to the one act play competition.

"I'm of the strong belief that the competition is a great thing and it's put the arts up there with the state football tournament," Olsen said.

The District 833 One Act Play Festival will be at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 25 at East Ridge High School's Loft Stage. Tickets are $5 and are general admission.

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.

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