The Actor's Nightmare ... but great teamwork and team spirit

by Brett
(Crookston, MN)

My senior year of high school featured my first experience with competitive drama/theater. After being advised from some already-involved friends, I auditioned for the school's one-act play, a production that was slated to be entered in the regional contest in which it would be judged against plays from nearby towns.

For whatever reason, I ended up getting a part in the small eight-member cast, with the rest of the ensemble being composed of seasoned thespians, all with at least one year's experience at this level of the fine arts. The group's condensed quantity resulted in each of us becoming close to another -- as actors, as friends, as romantic interests. We had to depend on ourselves to put on the best show possible, and we did so through backstage joking and on-stage concentration.

Rehearsals occupied us during the dreary winter months, and when the competition time arrived, everything was chiseled into twenty minutes of comedic routines, snippy retorts, and well-blocked thrills. This was the work of the adults behind the project, two women whom I still admire that supported the lot of weirdoes we were. For two hours a night, they had us perfecting our lines while teaching us practical confidence for everyday matters.

We excelled in the first round of judging, as our play was outstanding in comparison to those of other, smaller schools. Our only opposition came from a town thirty minutes away, whose play was highlighted by a local star who had been headlining for years. We knew the winner would be either us or this one other play; either way, both first and second place would move on to the finals.

The announcement was made over a silent auditorium filled with the participants: we were given the blue ribbon -- first place! All of us ran on to the stage to receive our medals in a mixture of jubilance and pride. Arrogant as it may have been, we were going to celebrate our victory with our rivals downtrodden as the runners-up.

A week later, we were set for the final round, in which winning productions from the area would compete for going to the state tournament. The morning of, a terrible snow storm almost prevented us from making the trip. One of the directors threatened to pilot the bus herself if the driver thought we had to turn back.

The final round did not go as brilliantly as we had wished. The scorers' panel ending up giving us the lowest marks possible, and the school we had beat in the preliminary contest were awarded the top prize. As their cast grabbed their trophy, I inferred their joy was a direct shot at us.

The roads cleared and we traveled home, defeated and silent. In only a few minutes time, however, we were again conversing and laughing, as while we were no longer eligible for competition, we were still the same cast that joined together in order to entertain everyone, including ourselves.

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