Roosevelt’s 60th annual Dramafest has been one for the books. This year’s weeklong festival of student-directed and produced short plays culminated into enough talent, creativity, and dedicated thespianism to completely fill the Roosevelt theater for Best-of-Fest last Friday evening. The final show featured three of the twelve plays: The Actor’s Nightmare, Booby Trap, and Much Ado About Murder followed by the Thespian Induction Ceremony and Awards Show. The productions, directed by seniors Arthur Langlie, Ava Yaghmaie, and Silas Collins respectively, demanded of the audience a new appreciation for high school theater. And they absolutely deserved it. Best-of-Fest’s opener was Langlie’s The Actor’s Nightmare, a humorous take on the struggles of an actor named George (best-actor-award-winning Keaton Rahm) who stumbles across a series of scenes from different plays that he doesn’t know the parts for. As he fudges his way through the disconnected performances, he speaks to the audience in several helpless monologues about his life choices, while wearing no pants, and recovering from being repeatedly slapped by one of his frustrated co-stars, Sarah (best-actress-award-winning Kellyn Barrow). Out of options, and preceding his short stint in a trash can while conversing with best-actress-award-winning Mae Lederman, who verbalizes her stage directions, George finally resorts to reciting the classic “to be or not to be…” soliloquy from Shakespeare’s Hamlet. This is made all the more entertaining by his lack of trousers. The Actor’s Nightmare nabbed Langlie best director and third place overall.
Booby Trap told the more somber story of a soldier named Pete Galen, played by best-actor-award-winning Duncan Weinland. Galen, while on base, accidentally steps on a landmine and must stay in his exact sitting position to keep the landmine from exploding. Weinland gives the remarkable performance of a tortured soldier who is visited by the loved ones of his past and by fellow soldiers in his unit who will be the last people Galen ever interacts with. Galen’s wife, Caitlyn (Sophia Power), children, (Phillip Solheim and Abby Larson), and Captain (best-supporting-actor Jack Leary) float into his last moments of life and remind him that his accidental death does not represent the kind of man he was or the lasting impact he had on others, effortlessly pulling at the audience’s heartstrings. Powerful and emotional, Booby Trap won second place overall.
The night’s finale was Silas Collins’ satirical Much Ado About Murder, which won first place overall and brought the audience to tears of laughter. Set in 17th century London at the famous Globe Theatre, auditions are being held for Shakespeare’s newest play, Henry V. Two young women, Hilda and Gwendaline (Dashell Adams and Ruby Koh), dress up as men in the hopes of nabbing the play’s female roles. The unexplained deaths of competing actors during auditions lead to a whodunnit mystery behind the scenes, conducted by Caleb Kleiman as a snooty James, Shakespeare’s right hand man. Meanwhile, the illiterate Hilda and Gwendaline fumble their way through casting, hilariously unable to read their lines. Much Ado About Murder snatched first place for good reason: it perfectly captured the historical accuracies of the time but went a step further and added a twist of priceless Shakespearean ridiculousness.
Following the performances and Awards Show was the Thespian Induction Ceremony, in which over one hundred of Roosevelt’s upcoming actors and actresses were officially inaugurated into the drama program. Now that Dramafest is over, Roosevelt’s thespians are gearing up for their two Winter productions, The Game’s Afoot, starring Lydia Ippolito, Sofia James, Elliott Moore, and Duncan Weinland, and Almost Maine, directed by and starring the entire Senior Drama 6/7 class.
Featured Photo: The cast of the award-winning Much Ado About Murder. Photo by Ruby Hale.