After watching, listening, and then individually critiquing eight Class A dramatic productions, a panel of judges rated five of them “starred performances” on Thursday, February 12, during the 2015 State One Act Play Festival sponsored by the Minnesota State High School League. The two-day festival is conducted at O’Shaughnessy Auditorium on the St. Catherine University campus in St. Paul.
The top eight Class A productions from across the state took the stage throughout the day. The five schools whose performances were cited for “starred performances” were (in no particular order)
Representing Section 1, Triton of Dodge Center’s “starred performance” of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) was written by Adam Long, Daniela Singer, and Jess Winfield. It was directed by John Schreiber and Vicki Reiser. The school was making its third appearance and earned its first “starred” rating. This play parodies and pays homage to the plays of William Shakespeare by blending actual Shakespearean text with contemporary references. And who better to give us this tour of Shakespeare than a group of absurdly incompetent actors? Since its beginning in 1987, it has become one of the world’s most popular shows. Cast members were Preston Pflaum, Charles Groll, Jacob Knutson, Kiana Komatsu, Emmily Wilson, Rhylan Peterson, Noah Woxland, Jacelyn Schley, Larissa Lumsden, Connor Kelley, and Desirae Tangen. Support was provided by Taylor Schandorff, Leah Pflaum, Grace Lumsden, Kasey Redman, and Matt Hoberg.
Representing Section 2, Maple River of Mapleton’s “starred performance” of Radium Girls by D.W. Gregory was directed by Sarah Lippert. During the 1920's, radium was commonly used in paint, household products, and even for medicinal purposes. This play is based on the true story of one young dial-painter from a U.S. radium factory, whose personal suffering and sacrifices helped expose the truth about the dangers of radium poisoning. In a "David vs. Goliath" type fight with the big business, Grace Fryer's story is as relevant today as it was almost one hundred years ago. The school was making its third appearance and earned its first “starred” rating. Cast members Isaiah Lippert, Gwen Ward, Olivia Lippert, Lee Schauer, Charles Stenzel, Hannah Murphy, Macy Wagner, Micheala Urban, Emily Larson, Breanna Barkosky, Elias Bonnett, Ian Frese, Carllie Wingen, Damion Dolsen, and Kaleb Krengel. Crew members were Grace Diel, Caitlin Jewison, Jack Larson, Moriah Lippert, and Anna Remes.
Representing Section 5, Sauk Centre’s “starred performance” of The Laramie Project was directed by Margaret Kitterman. The play was written by Moises Kaufman and members of the Tectonic Theatre Group. Laramie, Wyoming was the site of a brutal murder of a gay college student in 1998. Two men, Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson, were charged with the kidnapping, assault, and murder of Matthew Shepard. Moises Kaufman and the members of the Tectonic Theatre Group traveled to Laramie and conducted interviews with the people living there. The Laramie Project is about the town, its citizens, and their reactions to Matthew Shepard’s murder. Cast members were Riley Akervik, Charlie Barhorst, Ayden Berg, Rebecca Engel, Jamie Jennissen, Rachael Kloth, Jake Kluver, Grace Knoblach, Cole McElwain, Richard Polipnick, Noah Polipnick, Lilly Satterlee, Emma Quistorff, and Briana Ziemer. Support personnel were Emily Primus, Lizzie Wiener, Karla Zwack, and Daphne Meltners. This was the school’s 10th festival appearance and it’s fifth “starred” rating. The school earned previous top ratings in 1975, 1976, 2007, and 2013.
Representing Section 6, Wadena-Deer Creek’s “starred performance” of The Chair Play earned the school its sixth “starred” rating in its 11th appearance under this name. Wadena made one additional appearance in 1969. The play, written by Alan Haehnel, was directed by Jay W. Patterson. In this production, the playwright uses the symbol of a simple chair to explore the condition of the human heart. What is it that causes an individual or a country to want something so badly that they are willing to desperately hurt others to get it? Perhaps it is a thirst for power or control of lands, perhaps it is pride, envy, or greed. History is full of these moments; ideologies embraced, ideas that spawn a darkness upon mankind, and, as a result, great harms etch their way into the fabric of humanity. And then, inevitably, the end game brings everything into focus. Cast members were Hope Norenberg, Isaac Berger, Michael Small, Taylor Dirks, Hope Dumpprope, Samantha Kirkland, Alyssa Gilster, David Wegscheid, Anissa Mench, Beth Schmitz, Elizabeth Peterson, Mitchell Haman, Esther Berger, Devyn Norenberg, Grace Mertens, and Michael Schmidt. Support personnel were Derek Plautz, Logan Taggart, and Jasmyn Wood. Wadena-Deer Creek earned its previous top ratings in 1998, 2001, 2002, 2006, and 2007.
Representing Section 7, East Central’s “starred performance” of The Ice Wolf by Joanna H. Kraus was directed by Kathleen M. Ebnet and Richard Ebnet. East Central was making its eighth festival appearance and earned its fifth “starred” rating. The school earned its other top ratings in 1989, 2002, 2004, and 2012. This story comes from the East Coast Hudson Bay Inuit and it’s an authentic tale of a pale-faced child exiled by her own people because she was "Anatou, the different one." In a village ruled by spirits, shamans, superstition and myth, such a different one has no place. During a famine in which her parents disappear in a storm, Anatou is cast out. She seeks out the forest, into which no Inuit goes, and begs the Wood God to turn her into a wolf. Cast members were Molly Nygren, Sadie Shervheim, Cody Watrin, Rene' Nelson, Alex Finch, Derek Shervheim, Mack Nelson, Melody Kosbab, Aubrey Shervheim, Michelle Clennon, Ashley Nelson, Kali Finch, Ellie Juyun Park, and Phillip Jansen. Support personnel were David Hormillosa and Kalyn Nelson.
The Minnesota State High School League State One Act Play Festival does not involve direct competition. Judges rate the plays according to specific criteria, including pace, blocking, costuming, and projection of the play’s meaning. Each production is limited to 10 minutes of stage preparation and 35 minutes of actual performance.
The judges consult after each production and then openly critique each in front of the cast, crew, and audience. “Starred performance” ratings are determined by private balloting of the judges. One school from each of eight sections in each class gets to perform at the state level. Three hundred teams participated in One Act Play this season, 208 in Class A and 92 in Class AA