First time for everything

Every February, Highland Park Senior High Thespian Society has a winter production called the One Acts. The One Acts are 10 to 30 minute performances that are picked and directed by students. Although the One Acts are an annual event, there are two things that set this year apart from all the previous years.

One way is that this year’s One Acts are different than past years is that the Thespian Society decided to open the opportunity for any grade to direct. In past years only Seniors had the opportunity to direct, but due to lack of students interested in directing, the option opened up to all high school students.image1

The directors of the One Acts this year were Sophomore Zoë Challenger, Junior Schyler Fish, and Senior Max Muter. Zoë directed Variations on the Death of Trotsky and First. Schyler directed 13 Ways to Screw Up A Collage Interview and Sure Thing.  Max directed The Philadelphia and The Chicken and The Egg. The end products of each of these performances were amazing.

Zoë Challenger’s performance First was an extra special production in that she had written it herself.

“I started writing in mid-August of 2015,” Zoë told me, “I didn’t write it for the One Acts, it was more like ‘I’m bored and I really want to write something’…I had a completely different idea at first. I knew I wanted it to based on teens and their problems, but I was going to have it have way more of a plot and be less of a spoke word.”  Zoë was very proud with the end product of First. She told me that she was happy she didn’t stick with her original idea because “it would have been really bad and cheesy.” 

First tells the story of a twelve year old who is excited to turn 12, leave adolescence and experience “firsts.” The girl’s sixteen year old brother and his friends share their “firsts” experiencing everything from sexuality, feminism, mental illness, being a person of color, and coming of age.

First isn’t just powerful in its context and performance, but also the story behind it.

Zoë created the characters based off things that both she had experienced herself, and also things the people close to her had experienced. I asked Zoë about how she had gone about writing about the experiences. “It was really casual, like I just texted them and I was like ‘hey can I ask you somethings’. They new I was writing something so the were like ‘yeah no problem’.”

Zoë submitted her play and Director of the Thespian Society Steven Houtz approved it.

Although the One Acts are “very stressful to direct and manage,” Zoë along with all other directors were very happy and proud of the end result, so in the end it was worth it.

Be sure to see the One Acts next winter!

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