A group of actors from Princeton High School are in the waning moments before their one-act play is set to hit center stage on Friday night.
The actors are part of Princeton’s one-act program, and they will give a free performance of their show, “The Other Room,” a play written by Ariadne Blayde, on Friday, Jan. 18, at 7 p.m. at the Princeton High School Performing Arts Center, 807 Eighth Ave. S.
The group will also perform at St. Francis High School the next morning, Saturday, Jan. 19, at a friendly competition, the Mississippi 8 One-Act Play Festival, as well as on Saturday, Jan. 26, in the Class AA, Section 7 subsection competition of the Minnesota High School League’s one-act play competition, which is a prerequisite competition to compete at the state level, where they must place within the top three teams to advance as a sections qualifier before qualifying for state.
Over the last number of weeks, the one-act play members, who range from freshmen to seniors, have been putting in an extra workload to get their lines down and the stage built for Friday’s debut.
Taylor Wentworth, a former Princeton student herself, is in her third year of directing Princeton’s one-act program and said she read 30 scripts before settling on the first one she read, “The Other Room.”
The main character, Austin, is the reason she was drawn toward the play. Austin is a boy in high school who has autism and struggles in social settings but is smart and enjoys learning.
The one-act illustrates what autism can feel like from Austin’s perspective and takes a look at how people view him without actually knowing him or taking the time and effort to get to know him.
Wentworth said the play portrays a realistic high school setting and added: “Just because you’re different doesn’t mean you can’t relate to someone. You probably have more in common with them than you might think.”
Ellie Pomerleau plays Lily, a girl who attempts to strike up a conversation with Austin, played by Justin Bonasera. Pomerleau said the play sends a message about how isolated people can feel.
Iris Bienusa, who plays Nick, has a brother who has special needs. Having a role in this one-act has led her to getting some insight into the mind of her brother, she said, and it has helped her better understand him.
Rachel Hazelton was tasked with building the set, and after reading what the set should include, she said she enjoyed the freedom and flexibility the directions offered so she could personalize the stage to her liking and add her touch while still using everything the directions called for.
Dominic Nevares is the costumer for the play and added his insight to the performance: “It’s really cool to understand the mind of someone who has special needs. … It’s really interesting to see and makes you empathetic to those situations because this play shows the thought process that causes those reactions.”
By definition, a one-act play lasts no more than 35 minutes with no intermission and is scored and graded in the competitive events in which it’s entered.