Students at Two Harbors and William Kelley high schools have been busy learning their lines, finding their marks and are set to act in the one-act subsection tournament Saturday, Jan. 26.

The competition is hosted by Two Harbors High School. Students will have 35 minutes to convince the judges to advance their play production to the next level of competition.

What's a one-act?

It's slightly different than a regular play production, mostly due to the competition aspect. There are many strict regulations to keep the competition fair.

The basic rules are that the play must be performed in 35 minutes or less; the set must be portable and fit within a 10-by-10-foot square before the performance and moved onto the stage in 10 minutes or less. If these and a few other regulations are not met, the play is disqualified from the competition.

The plays are judged on such criteria from set design, to staging movement, to acting quality.

Saturday's competition at the Two Harbors High School auditorium will consist of seven plays in total and run from 8:30 a.m. until about 2:30 p.m. The order of the plays is unknown at press time. The two highest-ranking plays will move on to the sectional competition Saturday, Feb. 2, at Hibbing Community College.

Secrecy important

Spoiler alert: If you're a judge for this weekend's one-act competition, maybe stop reading this article now so that you can't make any connections between the schools and their shows.

Minnesota State High School League one-act competition rules state that "At all levels before the State Festival, no information shall be given (to the judges) to identify the play with the school." Judges are given the titles and authors of the shows, but no identifying information about the school putting on the production.

With that in mind, both Two Harbors and Silver Bay high school one-act directors have asked the News-Chronicle to keep the titles of their plays secret.

"Theoretically, the judges are not supposed to know what school does what show," Two Harbors director Carl Freund said, "so we just try to be very careful about it and not let people know too much about the show ahead of time. But I'd encourage people to come and see us, as our show is a very familiar classic tale."

Two Harbors takes on classic

The Two Harbors one-act production has been working on their tale, which takes place "somewhere over the rainbow," since mid-November, although the students had their scripts earlier than that to aid line learning. About 15 students are involved with the production, which Freund said is by design.

"I try to get as many kids as possible involved since this is their main creative outlet," Freund said. "We don't have a regular theater program here at Two Harbors, so I want to include as many as I can so they all get their chance on the stage."

What does it take to put on a one-act show?

"It takes kids who are enthused about theater and passionate about it. It takes time, patience, hard work, active listening, creativity and a lot of help from the community and your fellow teachers," Freund said.

In the lead role this year is junior Sky Ronstad, who plays a timid Midwestern girl who finds her strengths through a fantastical journey in another world.

This is Ronstad's second one-act appearance. Last year, she played the eponymous character in the "Velveteen Rabbit." For her, one-act is really about "coming together."

"I think the competition is really just a way for all the teams to come together and show what they've been working on. I don't even care about the competition part of it that much," Ronstad said. "It's nice to be gratified for your efforts and hard work, but I love watching all the other plays. It's fun to see what they've done for the past couple of months."

Ronstad's costar Jonathan Koenig would like to see the production move on to the next level of competition this year. It's his senior year and he's been involved with every production since his freshman year.

"This is probably the most fun show for me to be a part of and it would mean so much if we made it to the next level," Koenig said.

Silver Bay writes on

The Silver Bay one-act production deals with a writer struggling with their personal life and relationship with the act of writing itself. The play uses a Greek chorus to act as the writer's thoughts and characters.

Silver Bay will host a public performance of the show at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 30, in the William Kelley auditorium in addition to the competition Saturday in Two Harbors.