AVHS One Act Play Silent Sky Wins at State MSHSL Competition


Students involved in the 2018 AVHS one act play

The Apple Valley High School Theatre Department took home a win for their production of their winter show, the one act play. On February 8th, the cast and crew of Silent Sky starred in the 2018 MSHSL State One-Act Play Festival. In theatre, the award is equivalent to a state championship.

Silent Sky tells the true early 1900s story of Henrietta Leavitt (Brynn Berg), an astronomer working at Harvard University. She navigates through the struggles of leaving home along with her beloved sister Margaret (Amanda Jackson), being one of the few females in her field, and a budding romance. Along the way, she interacts with her coworkers, each with their own distinct personality. Peter Shaw (Danny Koeller) is the curious head astronomer’s apprentice, Williamina Fleming (Kati Devitt) is a fun Scottish former housekeeper, and Annie Cannon (Annie Nguyen) is the terse leader of the women workers. Determined and excited to get to work, Henrietta Leavitt in Silent Sky tells the experience of one woman who was not widely recognized during her own time.

Jeremy Olson
A scene from the public Silent Sky performance held at AVHS

Our One Act Play is unlike other theatre productions at Apple Valley. Directed by Josh Campbell, the one act incorporation of participation in sports-like competitions against other schools, allows students to be exposed to the theatre skills of other high schools.

Soccer, football, and other sports are often given this opportunity to see others’ skills at games or meets, but in the world of theatre, it is a truly unique learning experience.

Additionally, the aspect of being a competitive traveling show has is its own requirements. A maximum of 20 students are allowed to be in the cast and crew combined. In addition to the 5 actors, AVHS chose to have eight tech crew members this year: Hannah Cybart, Austin Hatzenbuehler, Aron Ghirmai, Steven Schroeder, Monserrat Sosa Bustamante, Samuel Rasmussen, Braden Kowalski, and Hannah Robinson. Sophomore Samuel Korn, also acted as a understudy for character Peter Shaw.

Furthermore, the show must not run for longer than 35 minutes, and schools are given a 10-minute set up and take down time. If a production fails to stay within the specified time frame, they’re disqualified. Set pieces and props must all be able to fit into a 10’ by 10’ square backstage, kind of like a real-life tetris game. Plus, different schools pose new challenges, each with its own stage, sound and lighting system.

Students involved in a one act must be prepared to be adaptable to new environments, manage time, and still put on an enjoyable show. With a starred performance at the highest level competition for one act plays, AVHS seemed to have been able to check all requirements.

But it took some work to get to The O’Shaughnessy, the performing arts center at St Catherine University where the festival was held. Auditions for the one-act happened over two months prior to the performance, and rehearsals had been running ever since.

The cast and crew at the MSHSL one act festival

Before the State festival, Silent Sky had to go through two qualifying rounds of competition at the Subsections and Sections level at Lakeville South High School. Two non-competitive performances—one public performance at AVHS and one South Suburban Conference festival performance—acted as opportunities to be in front of an audience.

Even through the hours of rehearsal, time spent building the set or practicing lines, most involved in the One-Act Play say it was worth it. The community built on theatre is a special one. It’s an exciting professional atmosphere where fun and work go hand in hand.

Actor Kati Devitt sums up her experience by saying, “It taught me how to do a mediocre Scottish accent.”

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