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One for all: high schools gear up for One-Act Play Festival

Justin Hiemstra, 17, portrays a theater director trying to organize his bickering and distracted cast, including Leah Haliburton, in Park High School’s one-act production “The Curate Shakespeare As You Like It.” (Bulletin photo by William Loeffler)1 / 3
Molly Moran, 17, of Cottage Grovel prepares for a run-through of “The Curate Shakespeare As You Like It” at Park High School. The one-act play is entered in the Minnesota State High School League One-Act Play Competition. (Bulletin photo by William Loeffler)2 / 3
Molly Moran and Mitchell Jensen, both of Cottage Grove, compare notes during a rehearsal of “The Curate Shakespeare As You Like It” at Park High School. (Bulletin photo by William Loeffler) 3 / 3

Park, Woodbury and East Ridge High Schools have a healthy rivalry on the gridiron and basketball court.

On Jan. 24,  however, the three rivals will come together for the South Washington County District One-Act Play Festival at the Loft Theater at East Ridge High School.

The showcase will give friends and family the chance to see the plays that each school has entered in this year’s Minnesota State High School League One-Act Play Competition.

And it’s a safe bet that students from each production will be sizing up the one-acts of the other two.

Park will present “The Curate Shakespeare As You Like It.” The play, by Don Nigro, chronicles one man’s attempt to stage the Bard’s classic comedy with an inept and inexperienced cast. The “curator” of the title is determined to bring the production in front of a live audience, even as his actors’ own personal dramas threaten to sink the whole enterprise.

East Ridge will offer “Failure: A Love Story” by Philip Dawkins. Woodbury will perform a condensed version of Shakespeare’s “Macbeth,” adapted to meet the state festival’s 35-minute time limit.

Friday’s performances will give student casts and crews the chance to detect and address technical glitches, sluggish pacing, bad blocking or other problems before next week’s opening round of competition.

“It’s the one show each year that really focuses on the best people available, since it is a competition,” Park co-director Steve Estenson said. “We try to have a script that will make the best use of the most number of the best kids we have. It’s like varsity-level theater.”

Park and Woodbury will perform their one-acts in the Subsection 3AA contest at Eagan High School Jan. 28. Park’s show will be first of four plays, with a curtain time of 3:30 p.m. The two top ranking plays will compete in the finals at Tartan High School in Oakdale on Feb. 5.

East Ridge is one of four schools competing the following day. Each production will be judged on physical and vocal characterizations, educational value, technical elements and the overall effectiveness of the ensemble.

Section winners will perform Feb. 13-14 at St. Catherine University’s O’Shaughnessy Auditorium.

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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