Sunday, March 16, 2014

Windham High School wins regional One Act competition - By Michelle Libby

The Windham High School One Act ensemble cast took home first place at the regional One Act competition held at WHS on Saturday. The cast of approximately 30 stormed the stage when Windham was announced as the winner surpassing ten other schools with their performance of “The Spirit of Life – A play in one act.” The play was based on the book Hassidic Tales of the Holocaust by Yaffa Eliach and adapted to stage by David Eliet. 
The play about the Holocaust was described as “horrifically amazing” by some students and brought others to tears. 

Senior Brenna Ryder helped to choose the play after she and her father went to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C. 

“The tower of life struck me more than anything thing else there,” Ryder said, who has been a part of the One Acts for eight years. “I always felt I wanted to do this.” 

The woman who created the tower of life also wrote the book the play was based on, Ryder said.
The subject was a difficult one for some of the students as they learned about what the Jewish people went through and how it felt to be persecuted through the series of vignettes. 

“We wanted to win because we wanted to bring this message to other schools. The overall message was intolerance of any kind is not okay. One group is not better than another and never letting something like that happen ever again,” said Ryder. 

The One Act competition has many rules and regulations. There can be no musicals. There can be no more than five gallons of water on the stage. There is a five minute set up time. Take too long and the team is disqualified. The play cannot be over 40 minutes or…disqualified. There is finally a five minute strike period (clear the stage) or…disqualified. 

As soon as last year’s One Act competition was over, Ryder and her father, Matthew Ryder, the director of the One Act plays, began looking at what to perform for this year. Once they chose “The Spirit of Life” Brenna chose the music to accompany the actors. “I wanted authentic Jewish music and traditional Jewish folk songs,” she said. Rehearsals began in December. 

Having home court advantage was good for the WHS team. “There’s an advantage when you’re using your own lighting and things you’ve been practicing with,” Ryder said. “I wouldn’t have designed the stage I did if it were at Bonny Eagle or another school with a smaller stage.”

Three of Windham’s actors, Kyah Morrissette, Will Wheaton and Johanna Stanley were recognized for the All-conference cast and Brenna Ryder was given a special commendation award for instrumental and vocal conducting. 

“We scored the most points overall of any school at our regional site and received a perfect score for lighting design thanks to our amazing lighting designer Jennifer Bernier,” said Matthew Ryder. “We also had a near-perfect score for costume design thanks to our costumer Kyah Morrissette!” 

The judges did nit-pick a bit, Brenna said. “They said, ‘you have a diamond here, we just want to help you improve.’ We only want to improve now that we are going onto states,” she added. States will be at Camden Hills Regional High School in Camden on March 21 and 22. 

The cast will spend the next couple of weeks fine tuning the performance and hopefully will have another public performance and another school one, possibly, said Brenna. 

One of the other goals for the cast is to raise enough money to go to the Holocaust museum in Washington D.C.

The cast and crew have started a Go Fund page to raise money for that. The link is

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