It’s all an act

TYLER – The clock was ticking down to showtime, and things were going from “busy” to “chaotic” at Russell-Tyler-Ruthton High School. Students were checking the stage and tables set up in the school cafeteria, fixing hair and makeup, and plating whole trays’ worth of cheesecake – all while dressed as detectives, butlers, Girl Scouts and clowns.

But that’s just how it goes at RTR’s annual night one-act play event. This weekend, students put in long hours and lots of energy putting on a mini-festival of short plays.

“When it comes down to it, everyone pretty much does everything,” said Dylan Stassen, an RTR junior, as he made some last-minute touchups to part of the set. Over the course of the evening, Stassen would also be playing four different characters.

RTR High School has had a long-running tradition of holding a special public performance of its winter one-act competition play, said director Neil Witte. As well as the competition play, students also perform in two additional one-acts. It’s an arrangement that gives more students a chance to take part, and makes for a bigger show for the audience.

“People who didn’t want to be in the contest play could still be in the other two,” said RTR senior Rachael Blake.

Students serve up refreshments between plays, too -?in character.

One factor making this year’s performance special was that RTR students had made it all the way to the state one-act competition in St. Paul on Feb. 14.

“That was a blast. Just going up to state was so much fun,” Stassen said.

This year, RTR students made it all the way to the state one-act play competition with “Between the Lines,” a play that brings together a variety of scenes based on newspaper headlines.

“We have a lot of over-the-top characters,” Blake said. “I play a woman who thinks her husband is cheating on her, but it turns out he’s dead.” Blake said the play had a mix of humorous and darker moments like that.

Blake said the other two plays students performed this weekend – comedies titled “The Mysterious Case of the Missing Ring” and “Campsite Chaos” – were “a little more normal.”

“When you have thousands of people at state, it’s just exciting to see,” Blake said. Performing in a huge auditorium can also be a little nerve-wracking, she said, “especially when they judge you in front of everyone else.” At sections, schools get critiqued in private.

“I had an amazing time,” said Katy Broin, one of the younger students performing in the competition play. “Getting to go to state was a great experience.”

Students said performing this weekend, with an audience full of friends, family members and neighbors, was exciting in a whole other way. And to judge from the practically standing-room-only crowd on Saturday night, the community was excited to see the students go on.

“It’s good entertainment,” audience member Dave Honebrink said. He said he and his family like to go see the one-act event every year.

“It really shows that they worked hard,” agreed his wife Debbie Honebrink.