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Students develop ‘Art’ of one-act play

By Elliot Mann

emann@postbulletin.com

A group of St. Charles high schoolers this Friday will try to act their way into statewide recognition.

The St. Charles High School One-Act team will participate as one of eight Class A teams in the 2009 State One-Act Play Festival, their seventh time reaching the state festival. The school went to state in 2003, 2004, 2006 and 2007, according to the Minnesota State High School League. They grabbed the Section 1A title on Jan. 31.

"I was almost certain that we wouldn’t win," senior Ashley Von Arx said about winning sectionals. "It’s such an exhilarating experience — when they call your name it’s like the best feeling in the world."

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The students will perform "Art" by Yasmina Reza. The play involves three friends who become embroiled in a bitter dispute after one of them purchases an expensive painting, which is completely white. As friends "Marcie" and "Sergia" debate the definitions of art, the argument begins to divide the pair.

Another friend, "Yvette," tries to play peacemaker, but ends up in the middle of the fight, said sophomore Megan Ludens, who plays the intermediary friend.

Von Arx plays "Sergia," while Lynette Volden is "Marcie."

Ludens, a sophomore in her first year of acting, said she was nervous at first, but was able to quell her nerves as the play went on. She was surprised when the schools’ name was called.

At the state competition, the teams are judged on pace, blocking, costuming and projection of the play’s meaning.

St. Charles teacher and director Theodore Derby said the students have been practicing Monday through Friday since December.

"We had 12 graduating seniors from last year’s play, so this year was really exciting because I got to see some newcomers and cast some newcomers," Derby said." The kids are very, very hard workers. They’re not inhibited and they’re willing to go to the extra mile."

In addition to the three performers, there are two understudies and 15 crew members.

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Von Arx is in her second year with a prominent role, and she said one-act is her favorite time of the school year.

"The play being so intimate, it brings the entire cast together," she said. "You feel really close to the other actors."

St. Charles High School is located about 20 miles east of Rochester.

State One Act Play Festival

• Sixteen high school teams will perform their plays today and Friday at the O’Shaughnessy Auditorium at The College of St. Catherine in St. Paul. St. Charles will perform "Art" at 11:45 a.m. Friday

• The plays are limited to 35 minutes, and cast and crew can’t exceed 20.

• While no single winner is chosen, each production will be judged and the best ones will get the "starred performance" rating.

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