Middle School One-Act Festival is District Tradition

Feb. 25, 2013 ~ The district's middle school one-act festival has been described with the words "tradition," "family," and "enriching." Students and their theatre teachers look forward to the one-day event in mid-February, even as far as a year in advance.

"This event is a healthy competition between schools and gives students an opportunity to display their talents on stage," said Chisholm Trail Middle School theatre teacher Micah Yantis. "I enjoy participating because it is the unique time when all middle school theatre departments can shine and we get to see the creativity unleashed before our eyes!"

The festival, which began at least 25 years ago, has grown to two sites (Olathe East and Olathe North high schools) to accommodate all nine middle schools.

Kim Manson, theatre teacher at Indian Trail Middle School, said plans begin a year in advance of the event. During in-service meetings throughout the year, the directors discuss the shows they've chosen for their students, technical needs, and the day's schedule.

"This requires all of us to be in constant communication and work with the hosting high school theatre director," Manson said. "Keeping the lines of communication open is why this event is such a smooth success!"

Several theatre teachers agree the one-act festival concept gives their students unique opportunities.

"This is a great opportunity for students to immerse themselves in the theatrical world," Beth Dean of Santa Fe Trail Middle School said. "They get to watch several types of shows, directing styles and acting styles. Plus, it exposes them to high school students who have continued working in this field beyond middle school."

California Trail Middle School theatre director Melinda Kearney commented on the supportive atmosphere at the one-act festival.

"My students love performing at the festival," she said. "There truly is no better audience than fellow theatre kids. It's just a blast; an extremely positive and enriching experience. It's my favorite district theatre tradition."

"The great thing about the Olathe theatre department is that we are like one big family," said Prairie Trail Middle School theatre teacher Dana Davis. "We love what we do and really love seeing the kids be successful."

Boys play game California Trail Middle School thespians portrayed two young boys (ages 9 and 4) playing cards while their babysitter wonders whether babysitting is really an easy way to make money. Their play was “How to Succeed in Middle School Without Really Trying.”
Jiminy Cricket and friends “The Ever After” was the name of Pioneer Trail Middle School’s one-act play. Characters included a prince who was slowly turning back into a frog (left), Jiminy Cricket and The Wicked Witch. Each of these characters had a chance to reconcile with someone from their past in a game-show style setting.
California Trail theatre teacher and students Melinda Kearney is California Trail’s theatre teacher. As director of their one-act performance, she took a few minutes to have her actors walk through a scene.
Wicked Witch and mirror The Wicked Witch from Pioneer Trail’s “The Ever After” didn’t like what she heard from her “mirror, mirror on the wall.”
California Trail students perform

In “How to Succeed in Middle School Without Really Trying,” California Trail thespians acted a scene where students learn they can get through a lot of classroom situations by looking like they’re thinking hard about something, turning their head and scratching their chins.

Photos by Marlene Colgan