More than 500 thespians from 18 Maine high schools will compete Friday and Saturday, March 19 and 20, in the Maine Drama Festival State Finals. Nine schools from Class A will compete at Camden Hills Regional High School in Rockport, and nine Class B schools will compete at Yarmouth High School. The finalists are competing for the honor of being selected to represent Maine at the New England Drama Festival, set for April 15 through 17 at Falmouth High School.

Play sessions will begin 6 p.m. Friday; and noon and 6 p.m. Saturday at both locations. Those attending need to be aware that once a play performance begins, no one may enter or leave the auditorium, except in the case of emergency.

The one-act plays presented at the state finals were selected by judges at each of the nine regional festivals held March 5 and 6. Schools compete in two classes: Class A is for schools with more than 550 students; and Class B is for those with fewer. The scoring system applies standards-based methods used to grade students in public schools to theatrical performance. Judges use a scale of 1 to 6 to rate how well acting, staging, technical and overall impact standards are met, not met or exceeded.

The order of one-act plays to be presented can change, but the schedules are as follows. Class A shows at Camden Hills will be: Thornton Academy’s “I Heard You Could Fly,” Skowhegan Area High School’s “The Cherry Orchard” and Ellsworth High School’s “Selections from the Diaries of Adam and Eve” on Friday night; Lincoln Academy’s “Orpheus,” Fryeburg Academy’s “Two Precious Maids Ridiculed” and Scarborough High School’s “The Dancers” in Saturday’s matinee session; and Mount Desert Island High School’s “Sganarelle, of The Imaginary Cuckold,” Cape Elizabeth High School’s “The Birds” and Falmouth High School’s “The Thirteen Clocks” on Saturday night.

Class B shows at Yarmouth will be: Oak Hill High School’s “Wings,” Winthrop High School’s “Letters” and Hermon High School’s “Sure Thing” on Friday night; Yarmouth’s “Scenes from Red Herring,” Maine Central Institute’s “Tuesdays and Sundays” and Caribou High School’s “Pulling the Strings of Courtship” in Saturday’s matinee session; and Fort Kent Community High School’s “Tracks,” Rockland’s “Wiley and the Hairy Man” and Robert W. Traip Academy’s “I and Love and You” on Saturday night.

The annual Maine Drama Festival is produced by the Maine Principals’ Association’s Drama Committee and the Maine Drama Council, with Camden Hills Regional High School’s Rick Ash coordinating. Admission at the door is $7 for adults or $4 for students for each session, with all proceeds donated to the MPA.

For more information on the festival, visit fivetowns.net/subsites/StromAud/MDC/index.htm. Results from the finals will be posted online.

Rockland’s Just Off Broadway Players will raise funds for its trip to the finals with a Just Desserts buffet and encore performance Wednesday, March 17 at 7 p.m. at RDHS, 400 Broadway. Admission will be $7, $5 for students and senior citizens.

VillageSoup Art/Entertainment Editor Dagney Ernest can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by e-mail to dernest@villagesoup.com.