The Student News Site of Alexandria City High School


The Student News Site of Alexandria City High School


The Student News Site of Alexandria City High School


Winter One-Act Play Festival Recap

Sam Jones (Jefrey Lopez) confrots her manipulative mother, Mrs. Jones (Amaiya Howard) in The New Mrs. Jones.

Maria Areyan Hernandez

After a successful production of the comedy play Noises Off last fall, for the cold season T.C. Williams High School Drama Department presents their 2019 Winter One-Act Play Festival, a Virginia High School League (VHSL) competition that let drama students from TC showcase their talent through student-selected plays.

For this year, six plays were chosen by student directors ranging from sophomores to seniors. “The beauty of this one act festival is that you get comedy, you get drama, you get all sorts of topics, abortion, rape, and sexual abuse,” said Leslie Jones, executive director of TC’s Drama Department, “…all at the same time.”

All plays are copyrighted from other playwrights. This year’s plays included Check, Please a comedy play directed by Senior Jasselene Paz and Sophomore Karam Burjas. Check, Please could be categorize as the rom-com of the twenty-first century; blind dates that can go unexpectedly wrong and even include mimes. Starring Senior Phoebe LaMountain as Girl and Freshman Devin Sawkar as Guy, both two young adults love seekers trapped in New York City.

“What she is looking for is not what she gets with her six horrible dates,” said LaMountain, “…I think she’s looking for a smart, funny, dog lover to spend time with, but blind dating can be pretty crazy.”

Along with LaMountain and Sawkar, Sophomores Ema Winkler and Nikolai Kosinski were both responsible for acting out the “horrible dates.” Alternating personalities back and forth and doing quick changes is something to accomplish. Winkler played out all Guy’s blind dates and Kosinski did Girl’s dates.

“I did not get to pick my character, but I’m very glad that I got this role… Emma alters her personality every scene. I think I can build up a character better than play multiple ones, so I’m glad [that] I got the role I did,” said LaMountain.

The Winter-One Act Play Festival have quite a history. Fifteen years ago, Executive Director Leslie Jones began directing shows for the Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) and started working with Executive Director and Technical Director Hope E. Bachman-Miller. Around this time only their advanced drama class were allowed to represent TC’s Drama Department on the district level competition. 

“The student body at the time would say hey that is not fair. We want a chance to represent TC [Drama Department],” said Jones, “But when she and I got together as a team… we were like why not start a competition and that is what we did.”

Previously, they would usually accept four plays suggestions from the student body. This year Jones said, “…we just did not want to say no to one play – we had a bleeding heart and we [Bachman and I] will do six [plays].”

The audition process this was quite different from previous auditions for Noises Off. “We had one day of auditions because we were crunched for time,” meaning the upcoming winter break, “where we had 40 to 50 people auditioning, so we [first] took 25 [students] and got them out of the way. Then we took another 25 [people more auditions],” said Jones.

Besides students who auditioned, Jones’ drama class also had to compete between themselves. “They even did an audition process within the class. [Because the class is big] there were actually two one act plays,” said Jones, “They had an in-class competition on December 19th to decide who is going to represent the class in [the actual festival].”

CJ (Zaria Eubanks) begs his girlfriend Angela (Ema Winkler) to not break up with him in Don’t U Luv Me?

Junior Lina Alshrawi and Student Director of Don’t U Luv Me? was one of the students who won the in-class competition that took place in Jones drama class. “We were in class one acts, which means that we split the drama class in half and two plays competed. My play had won so went on to join the outside one acts,” said Alshrawi.

Don’t U Luv Me? was a drama play originally directed by Linda Daugherty. It focuses mainly on a teenage high school couple that goes through a difficult relationship. While researching for what play could be best to win this year’s competition both student directors Alshrawi and Junior Emma Conner came across with this dramatic and serious play.

“…She [Conner] found Don’t U Luv Me and we both loved it, especially how its setting is in a high school and focuses around a friend group who are all close ages to people who would be in the audience [or] at TC,” said Alshrawi.

Starring Sophomore Emma Winkler as Angela and Zaria Eubanks as CJ, this love story will leave you with a message that situations such as Angela and CJ’s relationships can happen to anyone.

Six plays were performed January 11 and January 22. The third time these six plays were performed; they were judged by VHSL judges. Depending on which play wins based on the judge’s’ decision, these two plays will go to the district level competition.

“We do not judge ourselves as in the two drama classes,” said Jones, “[The] winner [that] has been decided by those judges… will be competing again seven other schools in this Northern Virginia area. Whatever play out of those eight plays gets first or second place they will be going to regionals, and whoever out of those eight plays wins first or second place will go to states, which is in Charlottesville [Virginia].”

All performances took place in the Black Box Theater. Since the plays are mainly directed by drama students Jones said, “Being a director for a one act is really good practice for them being directors for one of the main stages [for the] fall play or spring musical.”

The different aspects of the mind create a commotion in Austin (Jake Glasser)’s head in The Other Room.

Seniors Caroline Simmons and Gillian Walker are both directors of the comedy-drama play called The Other Room. Both student directors only had recent experience on being a drama director. “Gillian and I directed for the first time last year…We had talked about directing together a little before last year, but we honestly just kind of went with it and jumped in full steam ahead,” said Simmons.

The Other Room originally directed by Ariadne Blayde is a comedy-drama one act that explores the mind of brilliant teenage astronomer Austin, who happens to have autism. When an encounter occurs with his popular classmate, Lily, his brilliant mind and intelligence starts struggling to connect with the real world. Starring Senior Jake Glasser as Austin and Junior Teddie Ruschell as Lily, it portrays the compelling mind of a misunderstood autistic student.

“After the audition process, we knew right away that we wanted Jake to play Austin. It was a gut feeling and we went with it. When choosing the actress for Lily, we had to consider both talent and chemistry with Austin. Teddy was the perfect choice for both of these options. We are so lucky to have gotten to work with both of them,” said Simmons referring to herself and her co-director Gillian Walker.

The Other Room may have some comedy in it, but in the broader perspective it portrayed a serious topic that is not widely seen in the media. Simmons and Walker tried their best to make this play as entertaining and educative as possible. 

“The script does a beautiful job of recognizing the seriousness of mental disability and educating the audience while also keeping the audience interested…,” said Simmons, “we have used personal connections with people on the spectrum to make sure the performance was in no way offensive.”

The Other Room came in first place among the six one-acts, and the cast went on to participate in the regional competition at Lake Braddock High School. It tied for third place, with Jake Glasser, Thomas Shan and Teddie Ruschell receiving special recognition for their performances.

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Winter One-Act Play Festival Recap