In addition to Waldo County’s (see link below), other Midcoast schools are offering public previews of their one-act plays. Pre-competition performances help troupes hone their entries, as well as give local audiences a chance to see them. In Medomak Valley High School’s case, locals also can see the school’s play during the Midcoast Regional, hosted by the Waldoboro school Friday and Saturday, March 8 and 9. The Medomak Valley Players will present a by-donation preview of "How to Roommate" by Claire Caviglia Thursday, Feb. 28, at 7 p.m.

Camden Hills Regional High School is not competing at Medomak Valley, but is headed all the way up to Caribou for its Maine Drama Festival regional, so local fans are encouraged to attend its pre-fest performances of “You & Mia,” written and student-directed by senior Tatum Dowd. The shows will take place Friday, March 1, and Wednesday, March 6, at 7 p.m., with a $5 admission … and they may be different runs, at least from the technical perspective.

“We're going to have our first public performance and then we go to Tech Saturday and I think then we're just going to come back and completely rework the show,” said Dowd during the school vacation week.

Tech Saturday takes place the weekend before competition. Directors and tech crews from schools assigned to a given location bring their sets, lighting plots and sound cues there to make sure all will fall into place as needed during the regional. Although Dowd has been thoroughly immersed in Camden Hills' theater and choral programs for four years, this will be her first Tech Saturday — and the first time she’s not acting in the drama fest.

“It’s tricky, because I love directing, but there is that little part of me that’s like, oh, I want to be on stage! Luckily, our school has plentiful opportunities for that,” she said.

Dowd got her first director’s credit in a full-immersion way. In February 2018, she directed a one-off production of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “21 Chump Street,” presented in the chorus room just before the annual Dessert Cabaret.

“I still look back on that and think like, wow, Ms. Murphy really let me do this, which is amazing! But that was such a good time,” Dowd said.

Well, it also was stressful time, including a fly-awake moment the night before when Dowd realized she had forgotten to make an important prop for the 15-minute musical — a fake bag of marijuana.

“My poor mom walks down in the kitchen and everything smells like spaghetti sauce because I'm trying to mash some herbs together,” she said.

Also stressful was being in charge of cueing the karaoke track — “What if I cue the song at the wrong time and the whole thing is off?” Dowd is having a little deja vu, because the play she wrote has so many sound cues.

“The sound guy said, this year, I may need a page turner, this is actually a lot. And everyone was going, oh, Tatum, you're sitting right out there with him anyway. And I'm thinking, oh no, I don't want to mess that up,” she said

“You & Mia” has a deceptively simple logline: a modern take on a classic boy-meets-girl narrative in a high school setting. And it was inspired by a high school setting — and a string of snow days. Last year’s one-act play, “The Idiot and The Oddity,” is a drama fest perennial. It raised some controversy with the cast because, well, it’s not Shakespeare.

“I ended up loving it, but in the beginning we were all going, well, this is ridiculous. It was written by high schoolers and the whole time we were saying, Oh, I could write something better than this! And we’d start brainstorming backstage, coming up with hypothetical titles and just kind of joking around about it,” Dowd said.

When the Midcoast was hit by sequential nor’easters just after the fest, Dowd cranked out a first draft. And while she had a story she wanted to tell, she couldn’t help keeping the drama fest audience in mind.

“It's just the most excited, emotionally charged group of people that you could ever gather! So when I'm writing the show, there were moments where I go, I want everyone to gasp at this line and to go "aw" at this line. But I don’t think because I'm a part of this audience it really made me stray away from the script I wanted to write,” she said.

After seeing that first draft — the troupe is working with the seventh — drama adviser Thomas Heath, head honcho of the school’s technology systems and coordinator of the statewide Maine Drama Festival, told Dowd they should talk to her school counselor about getting some credit for her work.

“It hadn't even occurred to me that it could be an independent study. I can get credit for doing something that I love? So that was really nice,” she said.

A couple of months later, Dowd’s creative writing class emptied out, since all the other students were seniors, and teacher Sarah Cole suggested that Dowd make “You & Mia” her final class project.

“So it was really one of those things where the teachers and Tom were really helpful in making sure that I was getting this done,” Dowd said.

“Done” can be a relative term when it comes to theater. Dowd said she had just added a couple of characters and, two weeks out, there were a lot of props and other tech details to come together. It’s an odd zone to be in, she said.

“It's really interesting because of the variety … I'm making one note of like, ooh, that single line could be said a tiny bit louder, versus we still don't have a sink for this scene,” she said.

Dowd lauds her actors for their resilience, for being enthusiastic when she told them to get their phones out earlier this month because there was a new version of the script “even though you're already memorized”; and said she needs to apologize to them, especially the leads, for the number of costume changes. The ensemble has rallied to the challenge of, in effect, being the running crew, in addition to playing multiple roles.

She also credits her hardworking stage manager, Miranda Marsh; and set designers Thia Allen and Sol Caponigro for running with the challenge of a multi-area, fast-changing staging — something new for the school. Also new for most of the cast and crew is going anywhere at all for regionals, much less The County. But Dowd has confidence in the company and is excited about introducing her play to the public.

“It’s by teenagers about teenagers for teenagers; I think one of the things I love about the show is how un-extraordinary all the circumstances are,” she said.

And since “Young Playwrights 101,” a book Heath gave her as part of her independent study, has a chapter at the end about publishing, she thinks it likely she’ll put “You & Mia” out there for a wider audience.

“I'm hoping it's something that a teenager in Ohio doing this for their one-act might go, wow, this is so cool, I'm so like this character,” Dowd said. “I just love the idea of somebody else being able to relate to it.”

The “You & Mia” cast features Katie Southworth as Mia, Robyn Walker-Spence as Liv, Alice Moskovitz as Kim, Elaine Landry as Julie, Abi Hammond as Abby, Cora Maple Lindell as Mehghan, Kyle Hicks as Luke, Caleb Edwards as Landon, Bradlee Watts as Ben, Cyndal Emerson as Teacher, Sydney Lytton as Director, Jasper Berryman-Moore as Jason, Aly Shook as Grace, Sam Maltese as Charles, Lexi Smith as Kathy and the hard-working ensemble of Anna Daggett, Julianna Day, Gabrielle Englander, Sophie Ernst, Milo Gaudette, Emma Jordan, Izzy Kinney, Joshua Kohlstrom and Galadria Scattoloni.

The show is directed by Heath with Rick Ash as technical director. Running crew comprises Jasper Berryman-Moore, Tanner Castellano and Lili Wallace. Ileana Adams is lighting designer/operator. Costumes are by Isabelle Olson and Jan Low; and Abi Hammond and the cast are handling hair and makeup.