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The writers and directors of the 2010 Yellow Springs High School One-Act Plays are, clockwise from left, Anne Weigand, Elliot Cromer, Adam Zaremsky, Zeb Reichert, Lauren Westendorf, Elizabeth Gondor, Shirlisa Scott and Stefany Lewis. The production opens this weekend at the Mills Lawn auditorium; performances are Friday and Saturday, Feb. 5 and 6, at 8 p.m., and Sunday, Feb. 7, at 2 p.m.

One-acts take fairy tale leap

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By Kelsey Cundiff and Lauren Heaton

The annual Yellow Springs High School One-Act Plays are upon us again, this year led predominantly by members of the junior class. The plays this year include everything from awkward situations to a not-so-super hero, mixed up fairy tales, a mad scientist, blind dates, Power Rangers, war stories and a French-teaching superman. Even with new guidelines put into place by the students themselves, the one-acts are sure to be as good as ever.

The plays, which are written, directed and acted by students, will take place this Friday and Saturday, Feb. 5–6, at 8 p.m. and Sunday, Feb. 7, at 2 p.m. in the Mills Lawn gym. Tickets are $8, and $5 for students and seniors. While there are no call-in reservations, the box office at Mills Lawn will be open one-and-a-half hours before curtain time.

Elliot Cromer’s play, “The One Act,” addresses the typically awkward social situations that many people have gotten themselves into and don’t know how to handle with grace. To gather material, Cromer, a junior, carried a notebook with him and wrote down things he and his friends talked about, including quibbles about ex-boyfriends trying to hang on when they’re clearly not wanted and water glasses without ice cubes. Seniors Jacob Kintner and Colby Silvert star as the main characters.

“Badman,” written by junior Adam Zaremsky, focuses on a rich man who thinks life has become boring and decides to become a superhero. He hires a neighborhood kid as a sidekick, who tries to bring him back to reality.

Lauren Westendorf, another junior, wrote the play “Unhappily Ever After,” mixing up the stories of several classic fairy tales. The story includes a bubbly, ditsy Cinderella, a sarcastic Snow White, a narcoleptic Sleeping Beauty, and of course, Prince Charming. Westendorf spins the stories of all three fairy tales into one in which the women confront their common husband, Prince Charming, played by Quinn Leventhal, on the Jerry Springer TV show.

A mad scientist named Orwell and his assistant, Frim, are the subject of Lizzie Gonder’s one-act, which she describes as a “dramedy.” Believing the world is a terrible place and refusing to leave his home, Orwell becomes reclusive and insane. His assistant attempts to keep him down to earth throughout the play.

Zeb Reichert wrote not one, but three plays for this year’s show. The first, entitled “Go Go Power Rangers to the Rescue,” features an alien, Jacob Hardman, who is looking to conquer Earth. It is up to the Power Rangers to fight off his ninjas to “save the Earth from fiery destruction.” Reichert’s second play, “Super Smith,” is about YSHS French teacher Dave Smith, who is a “superman, but with French,” said Reichert. Super Smith must save Manfred, played by Quinn Leventhal, from an accosting woman. “The War Story,” Reichert’s third play, is about an old man describing war to young children, whose attention the old man wrangles in an unconventionally violent way.

An as yet untitled work by Anne Weigand features a woman who sets her friend up on numerous blind dates, all of which go terribly wrong. The show includes many interesting characters, as well as a possible appearance from Manfred.

A last minute addition to the one-acts came from Stefany Lewis and Shirlisa Scott, who wrote “Case Number 13.” The play concerns a mentally disturbed Captain Hook, whose parents take him to a therapist to work out his troubles.

The show also includes several commercials, produced by Reichert and featuring a zombie Billy Mays, a chain gang, a paranoid psychiatric patient and funny hats.

This year’s one-acts are produced under a new set of guidelines, established by the YSHS Drama Club and approved by the school board in January 2009. The guidelines, revised after a piece from the 2008 one-acts was censored for what was deemed to be inappropriate content, mandate that public notification be made before the performance of a play that contains potentially offensive material. According to the writers, most of the guidelines were already being followed. The purpose, said Weigand, was to “have a written document about it that we could go back to in the future,” as an official reference.

The fact that many of the one-acts are related to well-known fairy tales and their heroes and heroines is not a coincidence. At the suggestion of Drama Club advisor and parent Mary Beth Burkholder four years ago, YSHS English teacher Desiree Nickell has required all her English 11 students to write one-acts. Every year the quality and number of plays that originate in her class and are produced in the one-acts increases, according to Nickell, whose love of theater drives her to continue the tradition. Nickell invites a visiting playwright each year to help the students develop characters and a plot. Nickell enjoys giving students the assignment because of “the freedom that the students have to explore ideas that interest them — because there really are no limitations in terms of what they can write about,” she said last week.

The Muse Machine also helps to foster theater experience through a voluntary three-week, multi-school workshop and competition program sponsored by the Victoria Theater and Sinclair Community College. Students write plays, among which six are selected to be performed by Sinclair theater students at the Schuster Center. This year Nickell took eight high school students, who were asked to choose a character from a fairy tale, myth, or legend and give a different viewpoint on the story.

The stage manager for the 2010 one-acts is sophomore Robbie Weigand. Additional actors are McKinney Middle School students.

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