Festival features MSJ’s one-act ‘Irene’
By Josh O’Gorman
STAFF WRITER | March 22,2013
Vyto Starinskas / Staff Photo
Mount St. Joseph students play the roles of townspeople in different Rutland County towns during a scene in their play titled "Irene," at rehearsal on Thursday.
The state’s strong dramatic traditions have allowed the stories of today’s Vermonters to be preserved for the ages.
Saturday evening Mount St. Joseph Academy students will take the stage to perform “Irene,” a one-act play based upon stories told by people who experienced the full and mighty destructive force of Tropical Storm Irene in 2011.
“The play is borne out of the stories collected by the Vermont Folklife Center during their story circles, which were held throughout the state after Irene,” said Jennifer Bagley, author and director of “Irene” and longtime drama director at MSJ.
MSJ is one of the locations hosting regional one-act play festivals Saturday and will be hosting performers from schools including Mill River Union High School, Otter Valley Union High School, Peoples Academy High School in Morrisville and Mount Abraham Union Middle / High School in Bristol.
Also on Saturday, Long Trail School in Dorset will host a regional one-act festival, which will include Rutland High School’s production of “The Witch’s Lullaby.” It will also feature a dramatic work from the students of Fair Haven Union High School.
While the festivals are an opportunity for students to meet and share ideas with thespians from other schools, it is a competition. Two schools from each festival will be chosen to go to the state festival April 6-7 in Randolph. From there, two schools will go on to represent the state in the New England One-Act Festival, April 17-19 at Beacon Charter High School for the Arts in Woonsocket, R.I.
The dramatic spirit is alive and well, both in the area and throughout New England, Bagley said.
“Rutland County has more schools that participate in this than any other county, and includes up in the Burlington area,” Bagley said. “A lot of schools in the state have done one-act plays for 60 years. It’s a tradition that goes back to the 1930s. There was a little break during World War II, but other than that the six states have been doing this continuously.”
Saturday’s festival at MSJ will have three sessions, with the first beginning at 10:30 a.m. Otter Valley’s Walking Stick Theatre will offer their production of “David and Lisa,” adapted by director Jeffrey Hull.
At 2:30 p.m., Mount Abraham’s drama team will present “The Perfect Play,” written and directed by student Mikko Wells. Mill River’s players will follow with the Eastern European farce “The Police,” written by Slawomir Mrozek and directed by Peter Bruno.
In the evening, Peoples Academy will present an act from the classic William Inge play “Picnic,” followed by MSJ’s “Irene.”
Rutland Raiders supporters who head to Long Trail School on Saturday will have another — and very special — chance to see “Irene.” At 7 p.m. Wednesday, there will be a special performance that will bring together the people who originally shared the stories with the Vermont Folklife Center that became the play’s source material. That performance is free and open to the public, with all donations going toward Irene flood relief.
Admission to Saturday’s One-Act Festival is $5 per session.