Taking the stage despite challenges

One act team works with small cast and new director


Gabi Tederman

Freshman Saylor Eads throws a chair for the school performance while sophomore Emma Scheuler tries to calm her. Eads plays Liza, and Scheuler plays Jill during the performance.

There have been many changes and challenges for everyone in the past couple of years. The one act team is faced with a new set of challenges this year including a new director and a small cast.

When previous one act director Alyssa Hansen decided to coach cross country this year instead, Matt Gunter was offered the position. His love for theater influenced his decision to direct one act.

“It’s like coaching football or basketball, it’s the same thing, you have that passion for it,” Gunter said.

Because it has been several years since Gunter has directed a one act play, he’s not sure how much it has changed competitively, so he is uncertain about how well they will perform. However, he has implemented overall goals to boost confidence within the cast.

“Our goal is to be the top five… [and] out-act anybody else,” Gunter said.

The one act season starts with auditions. During auditions, Gunter looks for several qualities: body language, tone of voice, facial expressions and how well the actors portray the character. However, another important aspect is actors working well with others.

“They could be two great actors but if… the two parts don’t match each other very well, then I have put them somewhere else,” Gunter said.

This is proving to be a challenge for the one act team. Sophomore Emma Scheuler said it can be hard to pick up on some cues from other actors every once in a while. Junior Josh Fisher also feels that sometimes cast members don’t work as well together. 

“I feel like it depends on the day, like some days we’ll work well together, and some days, since we don’t know each other that well, we kind of have to learn what each [person does],” Fisher said.

Originally, 25 students signed up for one act in May of 2021, but many realized they had too much going on, so the one act team ended up with smaller numbers than expected. Having only five people in this year’s cast, both Scheuler and Fisher would prefer to have a little bigger cast. Gunter additionally found it more difficult to find a play with such a small cast.

“I think also finding a script that works for just four or five students… that’s also been a hard thing as well,” Gunter said.

Picking the play is a very important part of the entire process. Many different aspects need to be taken into account. Gunter and the cast members went through several plays together to decide what would work best.

“It’s easier to find a play that the kids can become those characters faster than it is to do a play where they’re not related to those characters at all,” Gunter said.

The team settled on a play called Figment. Jill, played by Scheuler, and Liza, played by freshman Saylor Eads, are the two main characters who are best friends in college. Liza has been having mental illusions of imaginary friends, and Jill is trying to find her help. Eventually, Liza gets help from the psychology professor and starts to tell the difference between what is real and what she made up in her head. Jill is worried about the professor’s questionable methods, so she visits him and is shocked by what she finds out.

Because everyone has to memorize every character’s line in case someone is gone, the one act team practices two times a week for two hours, and Gunter is increasing practices to three times a week during November because of upcoming competitions. The play was performed at the school on November 16. There is a competition at Pender on November 20, and conference is the following week at Douglas County West. One act district competition is between November 29 and December 4.

Gunter is excited to see how the competitions go because there has been a lot of growth.

“I think my favorite part is seeing the kids grow,” Gunter said. “It’s been really fun to see this play coming together.”