Anxiety, fear and bravery in the face of trauma were the underlying emotions on display during Heritage Christian Academy’s One-Act Play performance at the state competition.
And when the team returned to the stage, to accept their state championship win, they exuded a whole new set of emotions — triumph and joy.
The school’s One-Act team recently brought home the GAPPS State Championship title in this year’s competition. HCA’s team received an almost perfect score for their play, “Lock Down,” along with three all-state best actor awards.
The play selected by the students this year aimed to raise social awareness. It depicts a classroom scene during a school shooting lockdown.
The play’s ambiguous ending left audience members — and competition judges — with many questions. But that was the point, said JJ Everett, the drama teacher at HCA.
“We wanted to do something real and relevant that leaves someone with questions,” she said. “And for me, as a teacher, I think I wanted to do something that opened discussions.”
The 27-minute long show begins when the school is shut down due to a potential shooter on campus. The class’s teacher locks herself in the classroom with a group of students, and lighting and sound effects throughout the show keep tensions high.
“They start at one level of separation,” Everett said. “They’re separated around the stage, and as the show progresses, they move closer and closer together during blackouts.”
The students made sure their reactions on stage were as genuine as possible by changing up the timing and volume of sound effects during every performance, so the student performers on stage wouldn’t know what to expect.
The students also managed all the lighting and audio themselves.
“With tech, for One Act, you do one set of lights and sound here, and then you go to regional and you’ve got a whole different lighting and sound board,” Everett said. “And then you go to state, and you’ve got another new one. And you’ve got about 10 or 15 minutes to learn it. They did a great job.”
The play’s serious content, though, required the student actors to carefully consider their parts. One student played the teacher charged with protecting her students. Another played a student calling her dad repeatedly and with increasing desperation.
Preparation for the play sparked many serious conversations among the students, Everett said.
“It was really challenging each student to dig in to their character and figure out, what do you think you’re character would do in this situation?” she said.
HCA students Greyson May, Sarah LeDuc and Kathryn Everett each earned an all-state actor award at the state competition.
May, a senior, had hoped for a state win during his final year on the One-Act team. He didn’t suppress any emotion when the school’s name was called as this year’s champion.
“I went absolutely crazy,” he said. “I went high-stepping down the aisle up to the stage with my hands in the air. I ran up there. It was great. It still hasn’t worn off.”
Spotlight on Schools appears Thursdays. Contact Lauren McDonald at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 912-265-8320, ext. 322 to suggest a topic for a column.