“It’s theater meets a track meet,” says Lake Highlands High School theater arts teacher Joel Rosenzweig, in describing the UIL’s (University Interscholastic League) One-Act Play competition, which the school will take part in late this month.
For those unfamiliar with the UIL program, teams from different schools vie against each other in different areas of the curriculum, such as academics, athletics, theater and music, in hopes of rising to the next level of competition, culminating in state.
In the One-Act Play division, students have one hour the day before the competition to work out technical difficulties and rehearse. Then, the day of the contest, they have five minutes prior to curtain call to construct their set using the same standard prop pieces that all schools use, and then they’re allowed 43 minutes to complete a production from beginning to end. Though there is no limit on number of cast members, only three support staff members are allowed: a lightboard operator, a follow spot operator and a stage manager.
This is Rosenzweig’s second year as director of the production; he took over last year for an already overburdened Abigail Crabtree, LHHS’ lead theater arts instructor. This year, the One-Act players will perform To Kill a Mockingbird.
Rosenzweig’s background is a plus for the team: He moved to Dallas from Los Angeles, where he worked in the TV motion picture industry before transitioning into teaching.
Though the team didn’t advance at last year’s competition, they had a good learning experience, he says.
“We did well,” Rosenzweig says. “The kids came together as an ensemble and had fun, and that’s all that matters to me.”
Of course, Rosenzweig says, it would also be fun to advance to the competition’s higher levels.
“I would like for us to get beyond regionals,” he says. “And given the strength of our senior talent this year, and the nature of the material we have, I think we have a good chance to do that.”
But the thespian talent at LHHS isn’t the only thing impressing Rosenzweig: He has high praise for the entire community.
“It’s a miracle campus. Bob Iden is a fabulous administrator, and the student body and parents are just among the best I have ever seen in my life,” he says. “Everything you have ever heard that is going on in public education in America that is bad, it doesn’t happen at Lake Highlands. And everything that is good is there three- or four-fold. It’s just amazing.”
The competition will be held Friday and Saturday, March 27-28. The public also will have two chances to see the production. The first will be Wednesday, March 26, 7:30 p.m., at the LHHS auditorium. Donations will be accepted.
Sunday, March 23, Richardson ISD hosts a One-Act Play Festival at the Eisemann Center at 2351 Performance in Richardson. All four RISD high schools will present their productions from the UIL competition. Each performance will last an hour and will begin at 1 p.m. An award assembly will follow. For information, call 972-744-4600.