From the American West to the Russian steppe, meta-stage to fairytale fantasies; and from World War II Czechoslovakia to olden times in Southeast Asia, the Maine Drama Festival of one-act plays takse its audiences on a variety of journeys, even as it takes its participants on bus (sometimes ferry) trips around the Pine Tree State.

Most of the Midcoast’s participating high schools will gather Friday and Saturday, March 4 and 5, at Oceanside High School East, 400 Broadway in Rockland, while a couple are headed to different regionals the same days. All will present short plays — not a second longer than 40 minutes — in the company of other troupes doing the same; and first-place finishers from each competition will go on to the state finals, two weeks hence.

Some 3,000 students from 81 high schools are set to compete in the 85th annual Maine Drama Festival, sponsored by the Maine Principals’ Association and the Maine Drama Council. Schools compete in one of two classes, depending on their size: Class A comprises schools with 525 students or more; and Class B holds the smaller schools. Several of the nine regionals are one class or the other, but the Midcoast Regional at Oceanside contains both, offering a good representation of the work being done by Maine’s high school thespians.

Between Oceanside, led by director Alison Machaiek and tech director Dave Johanson; and Camden Hills Regional High School, led by director Tom Heath and tech director Colin Sutch, the annual Maine Drama Festival regularly has two Midcoast events. This year, Camden Hills will handle the Class A finals, hosted by Jane Self with Heath as technical director (Class B will be hosted by Stearns/Schenck in Millinocket). Last year, Camden Hills skipped MDF hosting in March to welcome the regional drama season finale in April; winners from five states converge for the non-competitive New England Drama Festival, held this year Saybrook, Conn.

Hosting a drama fest regional or final has a different set of commitments than traveling to one, but all participating troupes put in considerable time, effort and passion — as do their families and faculties. Whatever the outcome of the judging, the coming together of so many drama geeks and those who love them never fails to fill auditoriums with joyful exuberance.

Following is information on the participating Midcoast schools’ plays, casts and crews. Oceanside, Camden Hills, Belfast Area High School, Medomak Valley High School, North Haven Community School and Vinalhaven School will compete in Rockland (see schedule box); Searsport District High School is headed to Mount Desert Island High School; and Mount View High School will be at Lawrence High School in Fairfield. Regional results will be posted Sunday, March 6, on villagesoup.com and mainedramacouncil.com.

Belfast Area High School

The BAHS troupe brings Ed Monk’s “Booby Trap” to the competition, a near-future tale of a soldier trapped in a Central European war zone by a land mine. As his fate plays out, we see scenes from his past, present … and future. While there is some fantasy in these sequences, the play’s present aims for authenticity, thanks to local veterans who served as de facto dramaturges. Belfast previewed its entry in a Waldo County tour last week; for the cast and crew listing, see the story linked below.

Camden Hills Regional High School (Rockport)

Camden Hills is presenting Joseph Robinette’s one-act adaptation of E.B. White’s beloved “Charlotte’s Web,” whose barnyard characters should provide a real showcase for the school’s hair, makeup and costume tech teams — not to mention such requirements as “web weavers.”

Directed by Heath and student Rebekah Schade, with technical direction by Sutch and coaching from Everyman Repertory Theatre’s Paul and Jen Hodgson, the cast features Annie James, Robert Carroll, Nick Greer, Cora Maple Lindell, Eliza Robinson, Fiona Zizza, Tatum Dowd, Nicholas Watts, Elizabeth Cummons, Jack Nathan, Bridget Mellon, Evan Yandell, Ashlee McIntosh, Anna Christie, Andrew J. Pitcairn, Kara Robak, Becca Westbrook, Katie Hodgson, Mary McQuatters and Lindsey Reilly. While the MDF specifically prohibits musical theater, music can be used as an element; Camden Hills’ show features the instrumental trio of Nicholas Leclerc, Becca Agnor and Tyler Bilodeau, playing music composed by Agnor and Nicholas Watts.

 

Admission to the Midcoast Regional is $8, $5 for students and senior citizens, per session at Oceanside High School East, 400 Broadway, Rockland. Play order is subject to change.

Friday, March 4, 6 p.m.

• Medomak Valley High School

• Belfast Area High School

• Lincoln Academy

Saturday, March 5, noon

• Camden Hills Regional High School

• Boothbay Region High School

• Vinalhaven School

• North Haven Community School

Saturday, March 5, 6 p.m.

• Wiscasset High School

• Oceanside High School

The school’s always full-fledged production crew includes students Sara Wandell, Thomas Akselsen, Nicholas Watts, Ryan Shields, Jade Densmore, Natalie Kunzinger, Quinn Kelley, Matthew Ackley, Jacson Mooers, Aiden Lammert, Devon Lammert, Jenna Wells, Bella Bryant, Erica Durkee, Althea Gibbons, Katia A. Kordek, Erin Kozielec, Clara McGurren, Savannah Berryman-Moore, McKenzie Hilt, Hope Orsmond, Lindsey Reilly and Katie Hodgson. Adults lending talent and support include Terri Harper, Jane Self and Mary Wells.

Medomak Valley High School (Waldoboro)

MVHS is competing with one of the Midcoast Regional’s two student-written plays: “Sir George and the Sparkly Dragon, the Good Witch, the Clumsy Prince, the Articulate Steed, and Pretty Much Everything That Could Go Wrong in a Quest” by senior Claire Lupien, who also is directing.

There will be a public preview performance Thursday, March 3, at 7:30 p.m. at MVHS; suggested donation at the door is $5. This should give the Medomak Valley Players an extra shot of motivation, as they will be opening the regional the next night.

The cast includes Antyna Gould, Richard Kinney, Amber Hagin, Ian Goode, Julia Clark, Juno Buendia, Hailie Brown, Zac Cushman, Noah Dean, Chelcie Luce, Jacob Siegel, Ollie Brown, Sarah Harvey, Lauryn Keating, Zoe Gammon, Somerset Ganz, Ella Grant and Elizabeth Flanagan. Students on the production staff include Patrick White, Jordan Hays, Ben Stevenson, Elizabeth Prescott, Bryce Baughman, Eileen Monroy, Chris Mank, Danica Juntura, Finley Ganz, Will Cox, Amanda Poland and Riley Arbor. Adults along for the ride are Nancy Durgin, Matthew Kopishke and Kerry Watts-Weber.

Mount View High School (Thorndike)

Mount View, directed by Angela Nason, is competing at Lawrence. Its entry, “The Terezin Promise” by Celeste Raspanti, is about the last days of the Terezin Concentration Camp in what was then Czechoslovakia and focuses on the poems and drawings children did while in the infamous camp. Hundred of these works were saved and are now in the Jewish Museum in Prague, Nason said.

Mount View, scheduled for the Saturday afternoon session at Lawrence, previewed its entry in a Waldo County tour last week; for the cast and crew listing, see the story linked below.

North Haven Community School

The high school students of the state’s smallest K-12 school will present the Midcoast Regional’s second student-written play, “A Western Triangle,” by senior Adam Murphy, who has been in the NHCS one-act theater elective since eighth grade. After a handful of half-completed drafts, he decided on a Western.

Murphy said it's been a pleasure watching the show come to life “and I am very excited to present it to our town and at the one-act festival!” The students will present their entry at the island’s Waterman’s Community Center Thursday, March 3, at 7 p.m., before heading over to the mainland Friday.

The cast includes playwright Murphy, Caleb Mao, Maddie Hallowell, Adrianna Ames, Tristan Carrier and Macy Goodell, directed by Courtney Naliboff with student Assistant Director Shyanne Waterman. Students on the production staff include Maddie Hallowell, David Edwards, Peyton Cooper, Devin Bubar, Ashlynn Ames, Shyanne Waterman, Macy Goodell and Tristan Carrier. In addition to Naliboff, adults in the saddle include Terry Goodhue, Brett Thompson and Carrie Brezzo.

Oceanside High School (Rockland)

Oceanside Theatre is busy prepping, both to host the Midcoast Regional and to present its own one-act entry. This year’s selection is “All in Disguise,” a commedia dell'arte-style farce. Included in the cast are Alden Mason, Elliott Spear, Bri White-Ortiz, Sadie Thompson, Curran Grant, Reagan Billingsley, Chanel Courant, Molly Tobin, Haylie Witham, Nate Hersom, Nick Mazurek, Christian Straka, Josh Luttrell and Titus Kaelthong.

The play also features a musical ensemble, including Krisy McNichol, Keenan Hendricks, Becca Boggs and Panyapha Leekittana.

Students on the production crew include Sam Atwood, Nate Raye, Lily McVetty, Alexis Mazurek, Mary Allen, Abbey Lacasse, Casey Pine, Sam Townsend, Amber Johnson, Julius Bucher, Sydney Gustafson, Gavin Elliott, Zack Robinson, Kalyn Grover and Jennifer Carter, who is the student assistant to director Alison Machaiek; Dave Johanson is technical director.

Searsport District High School

Searsport’s Chris Goosman and students have put together a “Three Asian Folk Tales” offering from several sources, getting permission from Patricia Montley to make a “cutting” from one of her adaptations of traditional Japanese folk tales (“Yakami”); and from Aaron Shepard, to use “The Magic Brocade” from his online collection of Chinese folk tales. The third tale is “The Boxed-Up Governor” from “Korean Folk Tales: Imps, Ghosts And Fairies.”

“We've tied our three Asian tales together as bedtime stories, sent from Dad, who is away on business in East Asia,” said director Goosman.

SDHS, which previewed its entry in a Waldo County tour last week, is scheduled to compete at 1 p.m. Saturday at MDI. For the cast and crew listing, see the story linked below.

Vinalhaven School

Vinalhaven’s Hilary Martin brought the island troupe to the drama fest last year for the first time. There are headed back to the mainland with “Exit” by Ron Dune, a play set on a stage with more than theatrical implications. The cast — Frank Osgood, Hannah Jo Moody, Jason Moody, Molly Jo Wentworth, Corey Lazaro, Jensen Bruns, Jack Day and Ben Burgess — is a mix of returning students and festival first-timers.

“For those of us who are returning, we feel more comfortable because we’ve done this before, and we’re glad to be back. And for us newbies, we’re glad to be a part of the one acts this year,” said Martin, who is supported by Assistant Director Trevor Farrelly and cast photog/media liaison Carmen York.

Just a few more

Also to be seen at the Midcoast Regional in Rockland is “Beauty” by Newcastle’s Lincoln Academy, collaboratively written and directed by Griff Braley (artistic director of Heartwood Regional Theater Co.). Based on the tale of Beauty and the Beast, the script draws on a number of versions and features original music, costuming, choreography and staging.

Two other schools will be competing from Lincoln County. Boothbay Region High School’s “Making Nice” by Alan Haehnel is a play-on-top-of-a-play (Shakespeare’s “Cymbeline”); and Wiscasset High School offers “Two Sisters” by Caroline Harding, a black comedy set in the 1880s in a small Russian village.

And remember …

There is a break between each one-act play during any given session, but when the door closes for a performance, it stays closed until the play is over, barring an emergency. And specific-school-focused supporters should be aware that the order of plays occasionally changes.