Winona Senior High School students (from left) Adeline Matthees, Jacob Slinkman, Preston Kamrowski and Hailey Haxton perform a scene from the one-act play, “A Deep, Poetic Journey into Something.”
by NATHANIEL NELSON
What does it mean to break out of your box? How do high school students figure out where they’re supposed to go? What color should the sky be? These are some of the questions raised in “A Deep, Poetic Journey into Something,” the selected one-act play for the Winona Senior High School (WSHS) theater group’s 2019 season.
The play, written by Forrest Musselman, is the story of a high school girl named Jane who is discovering her purpose while learning about expectations, struggles and setbacks in life. Set in that awkward stage of adolescence where everything seems like the end, the play contains all the high school drama, familial troubles and existential crises that one can expect from a coming-of-age story.
“We go to school in boxes where they teach us how to conform, and then we graduate and go to college, which is a larger box that teaches us how to work in a box so we can buy our own box and then start the whole process over again,” says the character Jane in an early monologue.
Jane is played by Adeline Matthees, a junior at WSHS, in her third one act season. Matthees described the play as a memory play, with Jane providing omniscient monologuing through a recounting of her past from preschool through the end of her senior year in high school.
The play chronicles how she was first shown what “box” she was supposed to fit in up until she found her way out.
“It’s a key thing that happens in high school, figuring yourself out,” Matthees said. “[The play] talks about something important, that there are social norms but you don’t have to follow them.”
One acts are different than normal plays or musicals, Matthees explained, and not just because of the length. The key for a good one-act play is for the message to be portrayed succinctly, using the short running time as a tool to hit key points as fast as possible.
“You don’t have time to lay out the message, so instead you have to throw it at the audience,” Matthees said. “They deal with a lot of concepts at a very fast pace.”
Additionally, one act is a competitive sport. High school theater troupes across the state prepare a 30-minute play and perform it along with other schools at several competitions. The teams are limited to 20 students and two adults, with each person acting as either a crew or cast member.
“Everybody does their own thing and has their own slot,” Matthees said.
When the play is performed publicly for the first time on Friday, the group will only have been preparing the work for three weeks, she added, with the first competition coming this weekend.
Matthees said playing Jane was an easy role for her to get into. Jane has a sarcastic sense of humor, something Matthees shares, and the character’s life of hardships lent itself well to an emotional portrayal.
“It was easy to connect with the emotions she was feeling,” Matthees said. “I like connecting to emotions on stage, and making people feel that emotion –– whether it’s laughter or sadness.”
The play will be shown publicly for the first time on Friday, and Matthees said it’s a play that everyone should come and see.
“It will open their eyes to something that they already knew,” she said.
The WSHS theater group will present the one-act drama, “A Deep, Poetic Journey Into Something,” by Forrest Musselman, and an evening of improv on Friday, January 25, at 7 p.m., and Saturday, January 26, at 3 p.m. in the WSHS auditorium. Tickets are available at the door for $7 for adults and $3 for students.