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Park High School students "test" themselves onstage this weekend

Park High School Chamber Theatre players Emmalise Meyer and Donald Birttnen scold a paranoid William Hallock in "This is a Test," a one-act play about a nightmarish mid-term exam. William Loeffler / RiverTown Multimedia

Middle School students in District 833 will experience a “test” Oct. 6, but not to worry: this one is staged.

The Park High School Chamber Theater will tour its one-act play “This is a Test” for 6th, 7th and 8th grade audiences. Public performances are scheduled for 7 p.m. Oct. 5 and Oct. 7.

Stephen Gregg’s one-act comedy should amuse anyone who has ever dreaded a major exam - if only by virtue of the fact that they’re watching someone else suffer.

A desperate, sleep-deprived student, played by Park student William Hallock, reports to class only to discover that he studied the wrong material in preparation for a crucial midterm. To make matters worse, the teacher reminds the class that the results of this test will likely influence the rest of their lives.

“The kids are just jazzed because we’re touring the middle schools,” director Denise Atkinson said. “We also want to grease the skids,” she added, since some of those students could be future Park Theater members themselves.

The original script had only about a half dozen roles, but the directors expanded it to include more than 40 students who perform dance and choral sequences that take place inside the head of an increasingly paranoid Alan. Co-directors are choreographer Lewis Youngren and stage manager Quinn Masterson. The pair seem to take glee in tormenting poor Alan.

“The ensemble is sort of doubling for Alan’s subconscious,” Youngren said. “They keep saying this like ‘This is a spoon’ or ‘This is a shoe.’”

“I feel like that it enhances the storytelling,” Masterson said.

“This is a Test” also features Emmalise Meyer as Lois and Donald Birttnen as Louis.

If you go:

“This is a Test” runs 7 p.m. Oct.5 and 2 p.m. Oct. 7 at Park High School, 8040 80th St. in Cottage Grove. There are no advance ticket sales; admission is $4 at the door. For more information, visit http://www.parkwolfpack.org/theater

William Loeffler

William Loeffler is a playwright and journalist from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He worked 15 years writing features for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He has also written travel stories based on his trips to all seven continents. He and his wife, Michelle, ran the Boston Marathon in 2009. 

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