CCHS drama students present three student-directed one-act plays in a black-box setting

HOLLY SCHOLZ - Crook County High School sophomore Alex Hughes, left, and freshman Uber Gonzalez, perform in "I Think You Think I Love You," a one-act comedy that they will perform later this week at CCHS.

Crook County High School drama students invite the community to get a taste of comedy, drama and sci-fi when they present three one-act plays later this week.

"There's a good mix of comedy and drama, and it's a good way for them to dip their toe into seeing some shows," said sophomore Katie Jones, who is directing "Escalator," a one-act comedy.

The students will perform three shows at 7 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Feb. 22-24, in the CCHS auditorium. Admission is free, but they will gladly accept donations.

"Because these are more intimate shows, the stage will be transformed into a black-box setting with the audience on stage with the actors," explained CCHS Drama Director Anita Hoffman. "This will create a more intimate setting where the actors and audience will be within reach of one another."

Hoffman said they can comfortably fit 75 seats on the stage with good sight lines.

"The audience will be on three sides of the actors, so that creates another complication for my directors to keep their stage pictures moving and interesting from a variety of angles," she said.

Three students will direct the three different one acts. They had to choose a show on their own that suited the community, would be interesting to watch, had interesting characters for student actors to portray, and could come in under budget, Hoffman explained. As part of their pre-directing, each director had to provide a budget, prop list, costume list, light plot and projection needs before they could consider casting.

There are about 22 actors, directors and stage managers as well as 10 theater techs involved in this show.

Jones, who directs the comedy "Escalator," written by Tanner Heath, has been in theater since eighth grade, but this is her first time directing.

This show is about what happens when an escalator stops working.

"Through the process of them trying to get off (the escalator), they become friends," Jones said.

She directs seven actors and the stage manager.

"I've learned that there's a lot more work that goes into the tech aspect of things than I'd previously thought because I've only been an actor. I haven't really done much teching," Jones said. "There's a lot of tech work that you have to consider. It's hard to come up with fun and new ways to keep people engaged in the same script."

CCHS junior Anna Williamson has been in drama since seventh grade when they started the Crook County Middle School Drama Troupe. She is now the president of the CCHS Drama Troupe 4906 and runs the meetings and fundraisers.

She directs "Paralledram," written by Nicholas Richards. This 15-minute one-act is a science-fiction take on parallel universes on stage. She helps her fellow students with blocking and their lines.

"It's cool to see something that a student created because if we have one director, then the shows tend to start looking similar each time," Williamson said. "It's fun seeing different creative minds working on something. We don't usually do sci-fi's. So it's kind of fun to do something a little different."

Senior Jenna McWilliams, who has been in drama since her freshman year, directs "I Think You Think I Love You" by Kelly Younger.

"This is a sweet two-person show about a woman who returns from spreading her mother's ashes in the woods," Hoffman said.

"This guy comes into her house, and she's telling him about her bad day," McWilliams added.

This is also her first time to direct a play, and she helps with blocking, leading group chats, and she schedules rehearsals.

"The shows illustrate their interest in live theater and the added challenge of directing their peers," Hoffman said of the three student directors. "They have had to work on encouraging their actors, communicating with me as well as the technical director and keep to a schedule. They have had weeks of easy rehearsal as well as times to problem solve, and they are all doing very well."

McWilliams believes people will like the variety show.

"I think people would like these one acts because it shows people as students we're working hard and not just relying on her to be our director," she said.

Dates: 7 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, Feb. 22-24

Place: CCHS auditorium, 1100 SE Lynn Blvd., Prineville

Cost: Free, but donations accepted

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