Turning the education spotlight to the stage

By Joe Nathan

Minnesota’s state one-act play competition generally doesn’t get the attention that some sports receive. But having watched plays, and been in a few, I’d say that drama is one of the most valuable things a youngster can do.
So congratulations to the high schools of Eastview of Apple Valley, Eagan, Irondale in New Brighton and Buffalo for their recent “starred performances” in the state’s Class AA (larger school) One Act Play Festival. Congratulations also to Little Falls, Robbinsdale Cooper, Duluth East and New Prague for being judged No. 1 in their sections of Class AA.
The high school league noted that Eastview students have made 10 appearances at the state competition and earned a starred rating each time. Eagan was making its 19th appearance and has earned a starred rating 18 times, while Irondale was making its first appearance. This was Buffalo’s seventh starred rating in 16 appearances.
In the Class A competition, for smaller schools, starred ratings went to Nova Classical Academy, a charter in St. Paul; Park Rapids High School; and Belle Plaine High School.
According to the Minnesota State High School League’s press release, their “State One Act Play Festival does not involve direct competition. Judges rate the plays according to specific criteria, including pace, blocking, costuming and projection of the play’s meaning. Each production is limited to 10 minutes of stage preparation and 35 minutes of actual performance.”
You can read more about the Class AA plays at the state high school league’s website, http://bit.ly/1lVEGIA.
Information about the Class A performances is at http://bit.ly/1icxbK3.
As a shy junior high school student, I was not eager to participate in a play. But some of my friends were doing it, so I decided to give it a try. The drama coach gave me a small part as a father who was supposed to crawl around on “all fours” with one of my “children” on my back. This became more complicated when two days before the first performance, I broke my wrist playing football.
But as the cliché goes, “the show must go on!” So we added a line about the cast on my wrist, and the play proceeded.
I wasn’t a great actor. But like many other people, I found that being on stage helped give me confidence. It also was wonderful to work with a group of people on something that both young people and adults enjoyed. Whether it’s for drama, music or sports, one of the most important things adults can do for youngsters is pay attention. It matters when adults, as well as their peers, attend events where young people are performing.
The American Alliance for Theatre and Education describes many benefits to students from participating in plays. You can find more information at http://bit.ly/1g8uwMr.
Drama enriches our lives – both for the performers and the audience.

Joe Nathan, formerly a Minnesota public school teacher, administrator and PTA president, directs the Center for School Change. Reactions welcome,joe@centerforschoolchange.org.

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