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'Fresh and exciting and cool'

Catch the LOHS and Lakeridge one-act plays next week

REVIEW PHOTO: JILLIAN DALEY - Lake Oswego High School one-act directors and actors take time out from rehearsal last week.Discover the seemingly boundless talent of local teens, who will be putting their artistic gifts to use once again this April at Lake Oswego and Lakeridge high schools.

There’s a tradition in the drama departments at the schools of seniors directing one-act plays in the spring. The custom continues next week.

The Lakeridge show is a collection of jocular plays involving students in testing and college distress, parents parenting badly and a political ad campaign. Lakeridge drama teacher Andy Ballnik says he enjoys seeing students make a show of their own — and it’s a good learning experience for them.

“I think one-acts give students, especially the directors, a taste of what it's like on the ‘other side of the table,’” Ballnik says. “It gives them new responsibilities and allows them to experience a different side of theater. I like to think they get a more well-rounded perspective on theater and not just one from an actor's point of view.”

REVIEW PHOTO: JILLIAN DALEY - Lakeridge High School one-act directors and actors pause for a photo on Monday. The LOHS show carries the theme “Psychology Today.” Three of the plays are student-written pieces that focus on characters holding conversations with different parts of their own minds. Other plays involve a hotel fire, about which the guests are largely indifferent; what happens when a masculine woman enters a restroom; a look at what’s wrong with psychoanalysis; and the story of a couple of cockroaches.

LOHS drama teacher Bob McGranahan says this is one of his favorite nights of theater, and he is proud of the student directors for accomplishing the difficult task of supervising equals.

“Directing is hard,” McGranahan says. “Directing your peers is even harder. I don’t think they know that, so it works.”

Here’s what students have to say about the experience.


At Lakeridge, the one-acts tradition is in the hands of Selah Crisp, Caroline Haroldson, Nicole McBee and Samantha Wolf.

• Crisp’s play is “The Spot,” by Steven Dietz, and it’s a comedy about making a political ad for TV. Crisp, who has done some directing while creating a short film, says she believes the annual one-acts event is a great opportunity.

“It’s really good for students to get involved with their classmates and also find a place where they can do something they love,” she says.

• A comedy by Stephen Gregg called “This is a Test” is Haroldson’s play of choice. The one-act shares the experience of a boy named Alan who is doing what so many of us have — taking an exam he did not study for. Haroldson says it’s amazing what students were able to do on their own.

“That’s a really great thing to see, when we come together, what we can accomplish,” she says.

• McBee is leading a production of a comedy by Ian McWethy called “Thirteen Ways to Screw up Your College Interview,” which tells the tale of two college recruiters seeking to fill two more slots from a waiting list. McBee says adults who visit will find something to be proud of when they see what teens can do.

“Our community is so talented, and you can see it on both sides of the lake,” she says.

• Wolf is taking the reins on playwright Craig Pospisil’s comedy, “Infant Morality.” The play opens with a mom who is dissatisfied with her baby and is trying to return it to the hospital as she would a disappointing purchase.

Wolf says the one-act show will be “fresh and exciting and cool.”


At LOHS, the one-act student directors are MacKenna Gordon, Tizoc Gutierrez, Emma-Jo Newcomer-Formanek, Alec North, Miles Rigby, Hannah Rosenbloom and Noah VanderVeer-Harris.

• Gordon was seeking a writing scholarship when she penned “Reality,” a piece about a schizophrenic girl’s social interactions and experiences. Gordon received enough scholarship money without submitting the piece, so she decided to transform it into a play. She’s done a little directing before, but she says she has learned so much from simply watching Bob McGranahan in action.

“My biggest experience has been watching Bob throughout the years and what an inspiration he is, and trying to emulate the same kind of passion he has” for his work, she says.

• Gutierrez is ready for his directorial debut with his piece, “Us,” about a man named Mark who talks with people who aren’t there but who eventually become real. He’s “stuck with them,” and they complicate his life, Gutierrez says.

“The plot is Mark is trying to get a job, and he’s having a hard time,” he says.

• Newcomer-Formanek is leading her actors in “The Ladies’ Room,” by Carolyn Gage. The play is about two women who enter a bathroom in a shopping mall. One of the women, who identifies as butch, has security called on her when she is mistaken for a man. That sparks a debate about women’s safety and the rights of people who don’t ascribe to mainstream gender roles. Newcomer-Formanek says she wants the play to make people think.

“We want to raise questions,” she says.

• “Suppressed Desires,” by Susan Glaspell (in collaboration with George Cram Cook), is “all about psychoanalysis and how it breaks up a family,” explains North. He adds, “If you get too trapped into an idea, it can ruin everything.”

• Rigby’s directing “The Still Alarm,” by George Kaufman. The play follows a group of hotel guests who are singularly unimpressed when the place they’re staying at is engulfed in flames.

“Everyone takes it in stride and treats it like it’s a curiosity,” he says. No one rushes to be evacuated, and a firefighter eventually breaks into song.

• Rosenbloom shows off the world from a couple of cockroaches’ perspective in her rendition of “Joe and Stew’s Theater of Brotherly Love and Financial Success,” by Jacquelyn Reingold.

“I wanted to do something comedic and really high-energy, and this definitely has that,” Rosenbloom says. “I wanted a small cast, so it would be easy to have the authority to direct something. I also fell in love with it because it’s really engaging, and it’s a clever one act.”

• VanderVeer-Harris composed “Through the Mind’s Eye” himself. The play follows a man who “hallucinates his Freudian mind” and has conversations with his id and superego. The man himself takes the role of ego and suffers through the id and superego’s efforts to fix his life.

“One wants him to prosper, while one wants him to play video games 24 hours a day,” VanderVeer-Harris explains.

By Jillian Daley
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LOHS One-Acts

When: 7 p.m. April 14-16 and 2 p.m. April 16

Where: Black Box Theater at Lake Oswego High School, 2501 Country Club Drive, Lake Oswego

Cost: $8 general admission, $5 seniors and students

More information: www.edline.net/pages/Lake_Oswego_Senior_High_School

Lakeridge One-Acts

When: 7:30 p.m. April 14-16

Where: Black Box Theater at Lakeridge High School, 1235 Overlook Drive, Lake Oswego

Cost: Donations to the Lakeridge High School Drama Department will be accepted at the door.

More information: www.pacer-drama.org