Next weekend, the MHS Theatre Society will present the spring musical: Seussical. A lot of work goes into each show the Medfield Theatre Society puts on, but all the work for the musical is not over yet, so let’s look back at the One Act Festival. In early January, the Theatre Society put on their annual One Act Festival, titled Child’s Play, to benefit the David E. Medeiros Memorial Scholarship. Each year, the scholarship goes to a graduating senior of the Theatre Society, and the funds come from ticket sales from the One Act Festival.
The One Act Festival is very different from the other plays the Medfield High School Theatre Society puts on. It is a collection of seven one act plays that range from ten to fifteen minutes in length. Each one act play is directed by two members of the senior class at Medfield High School with the aid of a stage manager, who helps with the technical work of the play.
The festival always impresses audiences because each one act is so smooth and clean. However, what is more impressive is what goes on behind the scenes. The audience does not see all the work that happens in the weeks leading up to opening night.
First, many, many months before opening night, Medfield Theatre Society’s seniors must choose who they will work with while directing their one acts. Then, the director duo must choose a play, pay for its rights, and send for the scripts. The director duo can also work together to write a one act play themselves, a hard task to pull off. Then, there are auditions. Freshmen, sophomores, juniors and even some seniors audition for an acting role in their peers’ plays. Some say the one act auditions are more nerve-wracking than auditioning for the play or musical. Students must show their acting ability not only in front of Mary-Ann Hatem, the Theatre Society’s director, but also in front of their peers.
Once cast, directors start their individual rehearsals with their actors. Individual rehearsals start with an initial run-through of the script. Then, the scripts are memorized and blocking of the scenes takes place. In the two weeks leading up to opening night, costumes are assembled, props are collected, scenes are perfected and full rehearsals are put on with all of the individual one acts. Finally, on opening night, when everything is more or less in order, the actors and the directors of their play get the payoff they have been waiting for – the crowd. When asked about her one act play, senior director Bethany Komine said, “Opening night was the best I’d ever seen them.”
In this one act festival, I had the opportunity to not only be the Front of House Manager, but also a Stage Manager for one of the plays. The job of the Front of House Manager starts early in the festival process. Three weeks before opening night, my partner Dylan Heaney and I created tickets for the show. We had copies made and cut into ticket form. Then, we numbered all 800 of the tickets and distributed them to actors and directors to be sold over the holiday break. We picked 6-8 people to help us on the nights of the shows. After the holiday break, we collected back leftover tickets and checks, and organized actors and directors to sell tickets at lunch during the week of the show. Dylan and I also spent time baking cookies for intermission. On the nights of the show, our chosen 6-8 people came ready to welcome the audience to the show and sell the remaining tickets. After the shows, we cleaned the lobby and took care of all the money and checks from the week.
As a stage manager, I kept notes, attendance, lists of props needed, ideas for costumes — anything the directors needed. I attended every rehearsal and gave my input and opinion when asked. Having not studied the play thoroughly like the directors, I acted as the audience to the play. On the night of the show, I was backstage while the directors were in the audience. I worked with the main stage manager to communicate when the lights were supposed to come on and off. Basically, I acted as the technical help for the directors so they could see their one act play as a full and complete piece of work.
All in all, when the work is done for the play, everyone is really proud of the production they have been a part of. There are a lot of nerves before the shows, but everyone always does a really good job. Whether an actor, a director, a stage manager or just a member of Drama helping out, every person has a big part in the production of the play. It is a group effort to make something happen, and I believe the Medfield Theatre Society has done just that. Be sure to go to the musical, which runs March 8-10, 2013!
This article was written by Sarah Spencer, a Medfield High School student and member of the student newspaper, The Kingsbury Chronicle. The piece is part of Medfield Patch's weekly series, "Warrior Weekly," helping provide information about MHS to the local community.