It’s a Wednesday in early January, at 3:20. The B-wing hallway is filled with students talking and buzzing around excitedly, all trying to get a glance at a few pieces of paper hanging on the wall outside the Black Box.
The One Acts cast list is up.
The One Acts, an annual Wilson tradition, are student-directed and student-acted plays that take place every February. They are put on by the Wilson Players, the school’s student theater group. The plays are comedies, but they hit on some serious topics as well, like racism and sexism. “You’ll laugh and learn,” says Kellik Dawson, a senior Player who has been involved in theater since sophomore year.
The making of the One Acts is a process unlike that of many other Wilson Theater productions and is a favorite among those involved. Charlie Steinman, a senior who acted in the One Acts last year, said the experience is one of his fondest memories at Wilson. “They’re all really funny,” Steinman says. “And it’s so nice for student creativity to be given a chance to shine.”
The process begins with an interest meeting for writers. The Players always want students to submit their plays; they like the production to be as student-oriented as possible. Once the entries are in, the Players gather and decide which ones they will use and who will direct them. This year they chose nine plays, six written by students and three by professionals. One of the plays they chose was even penned by the popular children’s poet Shel Silverstein.
After an interest meeting for actors, the auditions begin. Each directing team holds auditions for their play, and students can try out for as many as they like. The directors choose people they think would be fit for the roles needed, and call them back the next day. Two days after the initial auditions, the cast list is posted.
Not long after this, rehearsals start. Scheduled by the directors and cast members, they often take place at people’s houses after school or on the weekends. The rehearsals are not as rigid as they might be if an adult were running them; rather, they are laid-back and “usually involve a lot of laughing and hanging out,” says freshman Fiona Martone. Rochelle O’Brien, a senior acting in the One Acts for the first time this year, likes being directed by experienced classmates because she is being instructed by people that are similar to herself. “Everyone is good at different things,” she says, “and it’s so nice to learn something new from my peers.”
Kellik Dawson described the rehearsal process as “running around and hoping for the best until the week before the show…then it’s like ‘Okay, we’ve got to make gold.” The week he’s talking about is tech week, when everyone involved comes together in the Black Box after school and rehearses the plays with lights and sound for the first time. The cast and crew stay until around nine on these days and get dinner. “It’s a lot of fun,” says senior Player Eva Shulman, who is co-directing “Not-So-Great-Expectations” with senior Player Cleo Krupa. Krupa enjoys the fact that a wide variety of people are in the plays, rather than the usual theater team. “Everybody really finds their place in it. It’s not as intense, so people feel more welcome,” she says.
Sophomore Sophie Thurshwell appreciates this as well, and says that the One Acts “are great because you get to know people who you don’t usually talk to.”
Making the One Acts does come with challenges. The plays are usually produced in about a month, so there is a time limitation.“It’s really hard to find times to rehearse with everyone, because everyone in a group has different schedules and conflicts,” says freshman Anna Nachbar-Seckel.
Despite this, students who are in the plays, and even those who aren’t, love them. “Everybody gets so excited for the One Acts season,” says Dawson.
The one acts will be performed on February 14, 15, 16, and 17 in the Black Box Theater.
IMAGE COURTESY OF KELLIK DAWSON