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One-Act Play Festival puts spotlight on young talents

Wayne County Play Festival
The community may attend the Jan. 24 play festival as well as a community performance of Dalton’s one-act play at 7 p.m. Jan. 23 in the high school auditorium for free. Waynedale also opens a dress rehearsal to the community in a free performance of Waynedale’s one-act play at 7 p.m. Jan. 23 in the auditorium in John R. Lea Middle School.
Schedule for Jan. 24 play festival at Dalton High School auditorium
* 8:20 – 8:27 a.m. Welcome and Introduction of Adjudicators
* 8:30 – 9:14 a.m. “Paper or Plastic?” — Chippewa
* 9:17 – 10:01 a.m. “Rideshare Overshare” — Waynedale
* 10:04 – 10:48 a.m. “Loving Every Nook and Granny” — Triway
* 10:51 – 11:34 a.m. “With Regards to Cooper Clawson’s Conscience” — Dalton
* 11:40 – 12:20 p.m. Lunch
* 12:23 – 1:06 p.m. “Pirates!” — Northwestern
* 1:09 – 1:53 p.m. “10 Ways to Survive the Zombie Apocalypse” — Wooster
* 1:56 – 2:40 p.m. “Stopping at Ellis Island” — Norwayne
* 3 p.m. Awards Ceremony

Drama Dawgs pictured here who participated in a “white elephant gift” rehearsal and party recently along with other Dalton students will be joining six other schools in the Wayne County Play Festival Jan. 24 at Dalton High School. A community performance is at 7 p.m. Jan. 23 in the high school auditorium. Other schools also offer separate community performances. Waynedale High School has a dress rehearsal open to the community at 7 p.m. Jan. 23 in the auditorium at John R. Lea Middle School.

DALTON  In high school, dedicated drama students don’t get much of a break as they go from fall play to spring musical – and participate in other theater activities in between. Theater doesn’t have a season and the young cast and crew members prepare and perform throughout the school year.
English teacher Olivia Stahl, who is in her sixth year as theater director at Waynedale High School, is looking forward to her students participating in a longstanding tradition next week hosted by Dalton High School.

The Wayne County High School Play Festival is during the school day Tuesday, Jan. 24 featuring seven Wayne County schools in Dalton High School’s auditorium. The one-act play festival has been hosted at Dalton for more than 40 years and is sponsored by the Tri-County Educational Service Center.

Stahl said she likes to surprise her students with the chosen musical or play for the year as well as the selected one-act play for the festival. They did have some input because they requested that the one-act play be a comedy. “Rideshare Overshare” is a fun premise with a minimal set of two makeshift rideshare cars, Stahl said. The play is based on two people trying to get to a blind date and finding themselves paired with interesting Uber drivers and unusual experiences along the way.

This year, Dalton also is putting on a comedy “With Regard to Cooper Clawson’s Conscience.”

Dalton drama director Robin Evans-DelCiappo, who graduated from Dalton in 1978, remembers the first play festival being hosted at the high school under the direction of John J. Hogan, Dalton English teacher, while she was president of the Dalton Speech and Drama Club. She has made sure the tradition continues.

Dr. Michelle Muro, fine arts consultant, writes in the program welcoming attendees to the annual Wayne County High School Play Festival, that the first Play Festival was April 20, 1978 at Dalton High School with four schools participating: Chippewa, Dalton, Norwayne, and Triway. Records from the early years indicate that the types of plays, style of production, time allotments and ratings have changed very little over the past 40 years.

The purpose of the play festival is “to provide selected high school students from our local schools with the opportunity to display their talents, and to receive a rating of their performance by qualified judges.” In addition to an overall rating, one actor from each school will be named as an all-county cast member.

This spring, Waynedale will put on the Addams Family Musical. Dalton Drama Dawgs performed the musical last year. The musical comes at a good time as a TV series “Wednesday” based on the character Wednesday Addams has become a hit. Waynedale performs their spring musical in March.

Waynedale has 28 students involved in the one-act play from cast and crew to assistant directors. Students gain experience on stage and also put much work into lighting, sound, props, set and other tech work.

“I feel like our theater students take away a lot from the one-act play festival,” Stahl said. “Not only do they get to participate, but they get the opportunity to watch their peers perform from the local districts.”

Stahl said she feels lucky to be working in the Tri-County district because of all the opportunities given to students.

“I feel like it really opens up many opportunities for drama students to be in that constant mindset of perfecting their acting skills,” Stahl said. “They get to be critiqued by the adjudicators … Not only do they get that feedback right away but I feel it adds to their entire school year. It’s not like an athletic sport – they don’t have a season. My students they’re busy with me from September all the way through April. There’s always something that we’re working on.”

Stahl is co-adviser for the Tri-County Speech Contest, which her students also participate in during the spring.

“At Waynedale we do it all – all year long,” she said. “My students are so blessed to have all of that through the public school system. I feel like they put the arts first and that’s a wonderful thing to see. It made me want to work at Waynedale High School. I’ve always loved the arts. I’m so lucky I get to do it all year long.”

Evans-DelCiappo agreed with Stahl about the important takeaways from the event, especially the educational component.

“The students take away how all aspects of their work, from crew work to acting techniques, will be analyzed and evaluated by adjudicators,” Evans-DelCiappo said.

This year’s adjudicators will be Brian Chandler, associate professor of Theatre Arts, University of Akron; Chiquita Mullins Lee, actress, writer, Arts Learning Coordinator, Ohio Arts Council; Ansley Valentine, actor.


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