Rolla High School drama department resumes competitions

Mykah Weldon

Rolla High School has had a drama department for as long as we can remember. However, in 2019, the high school introduced a new class into the fine arts curriculum: Competitive Drama. On March 9 at East Central College, the class resumed their competitions after nearly two years. 

For the competition, the class prepared two different shows for the two categories; Reader’s Theater and One Act.

“We practiced with stools in McNeven’s classroom for a good two and a half months. So, Reader’s Theater, basically you get a script on stage and it’s in a little black binder. And you basically read from the script, so it’s not hard. The hardest part is you can’t look at each other. You have to look towards the audience at all times,” said sophomore Hailey Nicholls, who participated in the Reader’s Theater category.  

Both casts had different types of rehearsals due to the difference in category and show. 

Kind of like, I don’t want to use the word ‘rigorous’ but it was kind of like that. There were a lot of difficulties with snow days and not having enough time to rehearse since it is a competition class. And it takes place during the school day. We had two days of actual after-school rehearsal, and they were only an hour long. So we basically did not have almost any time to rehearse and a lot of the people were forgetting their lines and stumbling over them. So it was kind of like, ‘What are you going to do with so little time?’ especially since it’s only a semester class,” said sophomore Sam Queen. 

The class began with reading different shows and deciding which ones they would like to perform. The class chose ‘Box’ by Lindsay Price (for the Reader’s Theater) and ‘Tracks’ by Peter Tarsi (for the One Act).

“Okay, so, when we got into the class, the very first thing we did basically, as an assignment, was read through plays that we would want to do, and we read ‘Tracks’ and it kind of clicked with a lot of us and so we chose that one,” said Queen. 

The competition began at approximately eight o’clock a.m. and ended around five o’clock p.m. They weren’t able to see their rankings until the following day. 

So basically what happens is, you do your show, you basically get a time slot, so there has to be six. No, there has to be seven or more for the top two teams to move on to state or nationals. But for Reader’s Theater, since there were only six of us, only number one moved on, but One Act, the first two. So the judges watch the show, and they write down the ranking that they like for the show and then they kind of tally it up. Yeah, it’s an interesting process,” said Nicholls. 

The Reader’s Theater got fifth place in their category, while the One Act placed fourth.

“Different rankings, they switch it from One Act, not like switch it, but divide it by One Act and Reader’s Theater, so there are two different categories. So let’s say Reader’s Theater. If you did the Reader’s Theater part of the competition, you’d be placing in a Reader’s Theater thing. If you’re doing a One Act, you’d place in the One Act thing. It’s completely based on the judges opinion and whether they like it or not. If someone likes comedies, they like comedies more. If someone likes the dramatic kind of stuff with lots of emotion, then they’re going to place first,” said Queen.

The One Act category had nine schools, including our own, participate. The Reader’s Theater category, however, only had six. 

“I was a little upset [about the ranking] because it was great. Like the show. I really loved the show. I think our downfall was that the piece we picked wasn’t really a piece made for Reader’s Theater. We made it into a Reader’s Theater,” said Nicholls.

Camdenton High, Kingston High, St. Clair High, and Osage High school got first through fourth place, Rolla High got fifth, and Eldon High School got sixth.

“I’m happy that we didn’t place last, but I’m not happy we did not place very well,” said Queen. 

St. Francis Borgia High, Calvary Lutheran High, and Mountain Grove High placed first through third, while Rolla High school placed fourth and St.Clair, Osage, Camdenton, Eldon, and Union High school placed fifth through ninth. The competition ended with fond memories and a great learning experience for both casts.

“I mean Osage beach did one that I really liked. It was about this kid who basically accidentally summons Lucifer in a Yu-Gi-Oh match. And it helped that McNeven knew the director of the Osage beach team. So our groups got along really well. Plus, in the show, they were making jokes that apply to our friend group, so it was great,” said Nicholls.