Litchfield High School students Peter Dinius and Julia Richardson act out a scene from this year’s one act play selection “Cry of the Peacock.”

Litchfield High School seniors Zach Olson, Madelyn Allee and Julia Richardson are all preparing for the 2019 Minnesota State High School League One Act Play Competition.

Richardson said that normally, the theatre department begins preparing a lot later for the one act play, but because of the play that was chosen, they began earlier.

“It’s our only competitive show, and you want to work harder in a way,” Richardson said of preparing for the competition.

Olson said when it comes to preparation for the one act show competition, there are a lot more elements to work on.

“We are a band of students with one director working on the show,” Olson said. “It’s up to us to work on our lines alone. It’s more meticulous.”

Alle said although the preparations are tough, the competition offers a unique experience for students.

“Competition is really cool,” Allee said. “You get to see what other schools are working on and watch their one act shows.”

This year, Litchfield High School will produce “The Cry of the Peacock” by Billy W. Boone for it’s competitive piece. The drama centers around an investigation into 9-year-old Mary Blanton’s abuse, which manifests itself in trauma through her nightmarish dreams and scratches on her body. Mary finds comfort through an imaginary peacock while the surrealistic and gritty plot bends the planes of what’s real and what’s imagined. The students will host a free, public performance of “The Cry of the Peacock” at 7 p.m. Jan. 24 at Bernie Aaker Auditorium inside Meeker County Family Services, 114 N. Holcombe Ave. Director Heidi Thoma said this production is not for all ages.

“I would suggest parental guidance if you were to bring along a child,” Thoma said.

After their public one-night performance, the students will head to sub-sectionals two days later to perform their selected play. At sub-sectionals, a finalist will be chosen to move onto sectionals and from there, those chosen at sectionals will move on to the state competition.

Thoma said she chose the play due to the ability to incorporate more elements, such as lighting and abstract themes.

“The year we moved on [from sub-sections], we had a lot of lighting elements,” Thoma said. “And the older kids asked for a drama.”

Along with preparing for the show, the students involved in the one act play have to make sure they adhere to strict rules. No food is allowed on stage, only a certain number of cast members, who double as crew, are allowed to participate and the show cannot exceed 35 minutes, including stage setup and take down, are a few of the rules they must follow, or they will be disqualified. Thoma said students made cereal rings out of clay and used a silicon substance to make it look like it was in milk.

Although there are many rules, Thoma said the students are taking the performance seriously.

“I’ve had great students in the past, but I don’t think I’ve had a group as dedicated as this one,” Thoma said.

Although they hope to get to sectionals, Richardson, Allee and Olson said they all feel it’s about doing the show.

“It’s fun to me, but we’d really like to move on to sectionals,” Richardson said.

“Even if we lose, we will get to watch what the other schools do at state,” Allee said.

Thoma encourages residents to come so that the students can better prepare for the competition.

“We like to hear constructive criticism and try to get feedback so we can make adjustments,” Thoma said.

Olson said when coming to the show although the subject matter is harsh, it provides a mystery that the audience will be trying to figure out as the play progresses.

“Keep an open mind and don’t focus so much on the [theme of abuse],” Olson said.

Editor's Note: This story was updated to change the location of the one act opening night performance. Updated Jan. 21 at 10:24 a.m.

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