BHSTG To Participate in State Theatre Festival
by Nick D’Amico
The annual Massachusetts Educational Theatre Guild State Festival is upon us, meaning that on Saturday, over 100 Massachusetts schools will gather in fourteen locations around the state to perform one act plays for judges and a chance to move on in the festival. This first round is known as the preliminary round, after which forty two schools move on to compete again for a shot at the finals.
The rules of the festival are quite simple. Each school is allowed one entry of a one act play. The play has a forty minute time limit from start to finish, and five minutes before and after to put up and take down the set. During the preliminary round, eight schools come together at one host site to compete. With eight schools at fourteen different locations, that makes 112 schools performing 112 shows for twenty eight judges. What every school wants to hear at the end of the day is their school’s name and show called to move on to the Semi-Finals. From each site, three schools move on to compete two weeks later at a new site. The Semi-Final round is held at seven locations, with six schools at each. The same process happens as it did in the Preliminaries, except only two schools move on to the finals from each location. Braintree High has never been one of the fourteen schools in the Finals.
So what goes into a festival show? Can a school just slap together 35 minutes of a show the week before March 1st?
As the Festival director this year, I can say that the planning takes months. Months of preparation and planning before even the auditions are held and the sets begin to be built. At the end of the last school year, I made it a personal goal to be the Festival director and choose a show that could compete at a high level of competition. After months of reading scripts and planning, I settled on the show Balcony Scene by Donald Elser. A show that won the Massachusetts State Festival years ago and naturally fit into what I wanted for a show. The show follows a young man who must attend his own funeral and listen to the opinions of others about himself until he can finally accept death and move on. Braintree High is the only school bringing Balcony Scene to this year’s competition.
After the show passes through the school and is ready to be directed, the auditions take place and rehearsals begin. The leading man in Balcony Scene is simply named Man. Man is played by Junior Morgan Brown, who is going to Festival for a second year in a row. After months of rehearsals and set building, the show is finally ready to be sent to Festival. The process of directing the Festival show takes much more than just picking a show to send to competition and running rehearsals, it takes months of preparation and work. Nothing ever goes as planned either, and adjustments have to be made to the set, the cast, and the script itself along the way. I spent an excessive amount of time in contact with last year’s director trying to solve every crisis along the way. Without his help or that of Theatre Guild advisor Mr. Dahlbeck, I don’t think the show would be nearly as good as it is.
So here we are, ready to go to the Festival. After months of work the show is finally ready to be sent off to Marblehead. The cast and crew of Balcony Scene are going to break legs in the name of theatre, competition, and Braintree High.
Balcony Scene will be performed Saturday, March 1 at Marblehead Middle School. Tickets are available at the door for $10. The show will also be performed as part of Theatre Guild’s Night of Once Act Plays March 6-8 at BHS. Tickets will be available in the cafeteria during lunches and online. Details of ticket sales will be available later this week