This Friday and Saturday, Nov. 15 and 16, the Sun Valley Community School’s Middle School Masque will present its 18th annual One-Act Play Festival.
This year’s evening promises to exude hilarity with a program titled “Love and Lunacy.” A group of around 60 students will perform 11 sidesplitting one-act comedies, each with a runtime in the vicinity of 10 minutes.
Five of these 11 plays have been independently penned by Community School students. Eighth-graders Ruby Crist, Lucy Lamoureaux, Emma Kingenfuss and Maeve O’Connell will all be making their debuts as playwrights this year alongside 11th-grade veteran dramatist Julia Ott.
The five plays vary wildly in subject matters, with O’Connell’s “Precarious” following the bumbling internal power struggles of a gang of bank robbers, Lamoureaux’s “Trees” finding some secondary actors preparing to come on for their solitary scene in a stage production of “The Wizard of Oz” and Ott’s “Time Out” focusing on some small children’s jailbreak attempts to spring a friend from time out.
Klingenfuss took aim at her own day-to-day surroundings in “Bros Before Girls,” which satirizes the often vapid social dynamic of middle school.
“I was really inspired by the whole ‘who’s dating who’ obsession in middle school. That’s what everything’s always about, and I’m kind of making fun of it,” said the eighth-grade scribe.
As the festival rapidly approaches, all the young writers expressed excitement at the prospect of seeing their hard work come to fruition, especially the eighth-graders, who are taking part for the first time on this side of the curtain.
“I’ve been writing stories and plays for a long time, but this is the first one that’s ever been produced. It feels great,” O’Connell said.
Their teacher, Joel Vilinsky, who organizes the festival each year, had plenty of praises to sing as well.
“I’m proud of all the festivals we have produced over the last 17 years—in particular, the way students take ownership over the entire experience,” Vilinsky said. “Last year’s festival featured six original scripts, and those students have continued writing more plays while inspiring other students to pen their own.”
This cycle of students inspiring students is what first got Julia Ott involved as a seventh-grader. Now a high school junior, Ott keeps returning to the festival each year to help the creativity germ proliferate among younger classes.
“I’ve been writing one act plays since seventh grade. I started and have continued because of all the amazing mentors I’ve had, all the people who have encouraged me to write and to act,” Ott said. “I’m excited now to have the opportunity to give back, to maybe be a mentor myself to the younger students.”
The young playwrights are already busy at work on future theatrical undertakings, with Lamoureaux and O’Connell collaborating, Klingenfuss working on another solo script and Ott drafting a couple of full-length plays.
Performances will be open to the public with tickets selling at $5 apiece. They can be purchased online. A limited number will be available at the door each night.
Prospective audience members should take note that the two performances are at different times. The Friday, Nov. 15, show will begin at 7 p.m. and the Saturday performance will begin two hours earlier at 5 p.m.
Once again—for the 18th year in a row—parents, students and community members will have the opportunity to see and celebrate the promising new talent emerging from the Community School. Learn more at communityschool.org/news/events.