Impressive feat

Royse City High School’s One-Act Play team competed at the area level, earning the first alternate to regional competition with their play “Sending Down the Sparrows.”

Royse City High School’s One-Act Play team recently competed at the area level, earning a spot as the alternate to the region competition — a feat that RCHS hasn’t done in years.

“We were super glad to get farther than we’ve gotten in a couple years,” said theatre director Holly Stone, “and a lot farther than we got last year.”

“To advance so far is just amazing,” she added.

One-Act Play is a University Interscholastic League theatre competition wherein similarly sized schools in Texas perform an 18-40 minute production to be judged by a single judge or a panel of three judges. Levels of competition, from the first level to the final level, include zone, district, bi-district, area, region and state.

RCHS’s team advanced from zone to district, from district to bi-district and from bi-district to area, where the team was named the first alternate to the region competition.

At area, RCHS competed with five other high schools: Denison High School, Rockwall-Heath High School, Hallsville High School, Corsicana High School and Lindale High School. All teams were in the 5A division.

This year, RCHS performed a historical drama called “Sending Down the Sparrows,” written by Laura Lundgren Smith — a friend of Stone’s, as the two both attended Texas A&M University—Commerce. “Sending Down the Sparrows” details the story of a young boy named Viktor, played by Michael Sherrell, living in 1939 Germany who recently became a member of the Hitler Youth. As a reluctant member, Viktor feels shame and confusion regarding his sister — a mentally handicapped ward of a state institution. Eventually, Viktor must decide between Nazi ideologies of a pure race or his love for his sister.

“I was searching for something way different from last year,” said Stone on her choice of play. “I wanted something that would make the kids work really hard.”

Aside from Sherrell as Viktor, the rest of the cast includes Noah Welch as Officer/Leader/Administrator 2/Guard, Shealee Owen as Nurse, Annabel Buchanan as Alina, Monica Dunn as Katie, Bayley Owen as Josef, Ashley White as Administrator 1/Youth/Patient 1/Nurse 2, Mary Edwards as Inspector/Youth/Person 1, Jamie Williams as Teacher/Youth/Person 2 and Samuel Chase as Blind man/Youth/Patient 2/Doctor. Crew for the play was stage manager Taylore Mullins, assistant stage manager and props manager Shelby Doroshow, lead tech and lead sound Christopher Velo, lights by Juliet Villegas and LED lights by Alicya Hernandez. Noemi Rivera was in charge of hair and makeup, Bailie Anderson was in charge of costumes, and Kyle Johnson and Michelle Hilson shared responsibilities as load captains.

After auditions in December, cast and crew began working in January to prepare for their first competitions in only four months.

“We really hit the ground running,” Stone said, adding that blocking and characterization were some of the first aspects worked on for the production.

Throughout the last few months of practices, rehearsals, traveling and performing, Stone said her favorite part was watching the students work to make the play the best it could be.

“The most enjoyable part was seeing that the students wanted to make it better themselves,” she said. “They wanted to tell the story and share a message.”

In addition to earning first alternate to region, students were awarded individually for their work by judges. Students received more than 15 individual awards for acting and technical work.

“I’m just so proud of the kids and what they’ve accomplished,” Stone said.

Stone added that next year, the team plans to go all the way to state.

“We always strive to go all the way to state, and next year will be no different,” she said. “We keep striving to get better everyday.”

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