Final Dress Rehearsal

"Dramas Unfold" by Craig Crosby - The Ellsworth American

BAR HARBOR—It’s drama meets track-and-field. It’s funny, intense and dramatic, and it moves really, really fast.

It’s the annual high school one-act play competition, whose preliminary round—the Eastern Maine Regional Drama Festival—will take place Friday and Saturday at the University of Maine at Machias, hosted by Washington Academy. The winners this weekend will move on to the state finals on March 23 and 24.

Student dramatists from Ellsworth, Mount Desert Island and Sumner Memorial high schools and George Stevens Academy, as well as Calais High School and, of course, Washington Academy, will be among the competitors.

At MDI High last week, student actors and technical staff were putting the finishing touches on the one-act play they have spent weeks rehearsing, paying almost as much attention to the clock as to the script.

In the competition, the students are given five minutes to set up the stage and break it down at the end, and the performance in between has to be 40 minutes or shorter, said Director Mark Puglisi. Judges scattered throughout the audience will assess the plays on acting and technical presentation, but also on how well the students cram all of it into the time allotted.

The plays often are adapted versions of full-length plays, but even those written as one-acts must be compressed for the competition.

MDI will perform a comedy called "Final Dress Rehearsal," by Jack Frakes. The play within a play depicts a group of whiny, dopey, self-serving high school students practicing, or malpracticing, a production of "Cinderella." Characters range from the Fairy Godmother with a Brooklyn accent and attitude—played by Amanda Perepchuck—to a surprisingly unlikable Cinderella, played by Rachel Henry.

The students have practiced three or four days a week, usually two hours a practice, for two months to prepare for this weekend’s One Act competition.

Ellsworth High will perform "Tales from the Arabian Nights," and GSA will undertake William Saroyan’s "Hello Out There." Sumner’s play will be "Like Rage in Marble."