By Anna Jauhola
Last week, Kittson Central Drama Director Renee Wahl and her students had a moment.
They decided to have a matinee showing of their one-act play the Friday before subregional contest, as usual, and then pack up their trailer so they’d be ready to travel to the contest Saturday morning.
“That works really well because we can practice, then load the trailer. Then I thought, ‘We don’t have to load the trailer because we’re having it here!’” Wahl said. “The kids said, ‘We didn’t even flinch when you said load the trailer because it’s always what we do.’”
Wahl announced last week that Kittson Central will host the Subsection 31 One-Act Play competition on Saturday, Jan. 26. This is the first time the contest has been held in Hallock and it’s all because the district was able to build the new auditorium.
Six schools will bring their one-act plays to Hallock that day and the rules are stringent for this particular competition.
The judges come into the day completely blind, meaning they don’t know what group or play is associated with what school. They judge each school on performance only, Wahl said.
For that reason, this article will not list what plays are being performed. However, we can list that along with Kittson Central’s cast, Stephen-Argyle Central, Warren-Alvarado-Oslo, Red Lake Falls, East Grand Forks and Sacred Heart schools are a part of Subsection 31.
The funding that made the auditorium possible also gave Kittson Central the ability to purchase the correct lighting needed to host a One-Act play contest.
“You have to have a stage that has six separate lighting capabilities,” Wahl said. “We had no control from the house before and we didn’t have a spotlight.”
Other rules for the contest include that each school must fit all its props into a 10×10 foot area and each play must be performed in 35 minutes or less.
The stage in the auditorium isn’t quite deep enough to house the 10×10 prop areas, so Wahl plans that each school will place its props in the hallway east of the auditorium.
“I don’t want to take space away from the performers backstage,” she said. “The hallway is perfect because you can go in through the drama storage down there onto the stage.”
Wahl has directed the last seven one-act plays and her crew brought home the subsection title in 2016 and were runner up in 2017.
“Not having the facility made a huge difference in prior years,” she said. “We weren’t able to choose plays that might be more challenging because we couldn’t practice them. So now we can do more stuff with lighting and sound.”
She added they carefully plan those details, however, because some schools may not have the same equipment and they maybe couldn’t reproduce it.
Each year, the subsection circulates its host school so Kittson Central won’t host subsection contest in 2020. But, the district is scheduled to host the regional contest in 2021.
In the meantime, Wahl plans to further boost the program.
“The cast I have right now is very talented. So, in the next two years, we need to build up the cast and bring in younger ones to study under them because they’re so good,” Wahl said. “For people to come into a facility like this is a gift. We worked pretty hard to get this far.”
By Anna Jauhola