Belle Plaine thespians portraying political protesters

Belle Plaine thespians portraying political protesters performed a dress rehearsal of Belle Plaine High School’s production of “Perfect Ending” on Monday, Jan. 13.

Less than a week out from the fifth annual Minnesota River Conference One-Act Play Festival, the Belle Plaine ensemble is working around the clock to refine their performance of B. Dwayne Craft’s ‘Perfect Ending.’

‘Perfect Ending,’ billed as an absurdity comedy, has been on Belle Plaine co-directors Chris Moore and Tony Hartmann’s radar for several years, Hartmann said, and he believes the script will challenge his thespians.

“We have not done this style of show for a few years, and we wanted to give  this group of actors the opportunity to perform an absurdist comedy,” Hartmann said.

“‘The Perfect Ending’ is a satire of sorts set in the middle of America in the mid-1950s, a time when we were devoted to the TV screen, caught up in consumerism, yet full of fear from impending nuclear annihilation. Americans ducked and covered, hopeful that they could survive whatever frightening future lay ahead. We think the play speaks to at least some of what we face today,” Moore added.

‘Perfect Ending’ follows the exploits of eclectic, largely unstable characters as they come in and out of a mother character’s household as she prepares for the perfect dinner party. Meanwhile, the end of the world is rapidly approaching.

This Saturday, Jan. 18, the Belle Plaine thespians, of which there are 10 returning letter winners, hope to leave the judges and their contemporaries in stitches when they compete at the MRC festival at Mayer Lutheran High School. The event is set to kick off at 9 a.m. The performance is open to the public and admission will be per regular MRC events at $6 for adults and $4 for students.

The festival, which to some extent serves as an opportunity for one-act programs to refine details prior to the more competitive sub-section and section competitions, will give the Belle Plaine players a chance to test out their comedic timing, Moore said.

“Hearing audience laughter (we hope) will give them a chance to learn when to pause and when to punch,” Moore added.

Belle Plaine will also get a chance to watch and be watched by the best the MRC has to offer, including Tri-City United and Norwood Young America Central, both of whom are directed by Belle Plaine one-act alumni, Erin Winters and Dylan O’Brien, respectively.

“The students have been rehearsing 2-3 hours per day for the past month and a half, so they are ready to give an outstanding performance at the MRC One-Act Festival,” Hartmann said. “We have an eager group of students whom we know will bring it on Saturday and will make our school and community proud.”

The Minnesota State High School League annual competition begins with subsection contests on Jan. 25.  Section contests will follow the next weekend, with state competition scheduled for Feb. 6 and 7.

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