Jan. 15, 2007

All about the acting: Delano's one-act crew

By Kelsey Linden
Staff Writer

Different from any other play in high school, the one-act is a competition where schools all around the area put their acting skills to the test.

With Delano’s first competition of the year soon approaching, the actors challenge their skills and practice continuously to prepare for critique from the judges.

Joseph Crook, the current lead in this year’s one-act titled “This is a Test,” was quick to express one of it’s many characteristics.

“The one-act is a competitive play, so it’s taken a lot more seriously,” Crook said.

This year’s play is a farce, which Crook said, “is particularly difficult to do in theatre because it’s a humor that you don’t really know.”

The entire play is set inside a school classroom, where students take a test. Crook portrays the male lead that panics uncontrollably about the test and all the possible outcomes.

“It’s basically a student’s worst nightmare,” he said.

When a student auditions for the one-act, it is essential for he or she to realize that this is not a social hour. It gets down into the very core of acting and adds a little unfortunate element called “time” to the stage.

Every one-act play is to be performed in exactly 35 minutes. It adds even more stress to performers like Kirsten Vignes, McKay Elwood, and Sarah Fleming, who undertake the roles of the chorus and basically act out the nightmares. Together, they must speak their lines timely and in unison.

When asked to describe the one- act in three words, Crook slowly responded, “Challenging. Exciting. Creative.”

“It’s a creative experience, but I think it’s more exciting in the aspect that you’re not just performing for an audience, you’re performing in front of a panel of judges who are actually critiquing what you do. It’s not just ‘oh we’re going to perform this for our moms and dads,’ we actually have to perform this for people who are experienced in theatre,” he added.

Some people could love it, some could hate it, but what really matters is the opinion of the judges. Crook stated, “I’ve talked to many judges, and you never really know what to expect.”

When asked what set the play apart from other productions, Crook said “I don’t know if we’re set apart; if there’s anything that sets us apart, it’s our creative ideas and our presentation.”

It’s a collective effort, but Barbara Roy, director of the play, certainly has her take in it.

Crook was quick to compliment her knowledge of theatre, “Ms. Roy definitely sets the stage for all of our planning and preparation. She is extremely experienced when it comes to one-acts, and she knows what’s expected and what the cast will face on and off the stage.”

With just recently retiring from teaching English last year, Roy continues to direct plays.

When asked why she choose this script, Roy replied, “I love this script and author and I have done it before – it’s a student’s worst nightmare.” Above all, Roy enjoys “watching her students grow.”

“She always has a good creative idea for something and she really does a good job understanding where we’re at as actors, and our abilities and help nurture that, and help us do that on our own,” Crook said.

Fleming also added, “You can definitely tell that she’s really passionate about directing plays, and she really puts her whole heart into it. I think she enjoys being around her students, and she gets a good laugh out of us every once in a while.”

Roy clearly understands the meaning of a competition, and she strives to ensure that her students follow the same view she has about every last detail.

On the day of the competition, the host school will be first to perform its play in front of a panel of judges. The judges will rank the performance according to a basic criteria including diction, presentation, and entertainment, and the overall score boils down to “which school did the best job.”

Only the top two teams will advance to the next competition.

At the state competition, the judges do not proclaim a winner. Instead, they either “star you, or not,” Crook said.

In order to receive a star, Crook stressed how a school really needs to have done an “exceptional job.”

The Delano High School one-act has not qualified for state since 2002, but the cast is hoping to pull off an exceptional performance for the judges Saturday, Jan. 27 at 8:30 a.m. in the middle school auditorium. The performance is open to the public.

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