The Marble Falls High School theater troupe takes their production of ’The Storm in the Barn’ to the 5A state UIL one-act play contest Wednesday, April 24, at the Round Rock ISD Performing Arts Center, 5800 McNeil Drive in Austin. The students made it through four rounds to earn a spot in the state event, a first for the school. Courtesy photo
EDITOR DANIEL CLIFTON
Two out of three ain’t bad. In fact, for Marble Falls High School theater-arts students, two out of three is all they needed to make history.
At the Region III one-act play contest at San Jacinto College on April 12, the Marble Falls troupe received not-so-high marks from the acting judge for its performance of “The Storm in the Barn.”
“I wasn’t expecting to advance,” said theater arts teacher and director Jon Clark. “I thought we were done. I thought it was over.”
However, the other two judges on the panel had different opinions.
When officials announced which two high schools were advancing to state, Marble Falls was one of them.
It’s the first time the Marble Falls one-act play troupe, which has advanced to regionals three years in a row, has made it to the state contest.
“It’s crazy,” said Mary Fournier, the assistant director.
[box type=”info”]CHEER THEM ON The community is invited to send off the Marble Falls High School one-act play troupe to the state competition Tuesday, April 23, at 8 p.m. in the high school parking lot, 2101 Mustang Drive in Marble Falls.[/box] The Class 5A University Interscholastic League one-act play competition is Wednesday, April 24, at the Round Rock ISD Performing Arts Center, 5800 McNeil Drive in Austin.
Marble Falls takes the stage at 4:50 p.m. in the first session, which starts at 4 p.m. The contest features the top eight 5A theater troupes from across Texas.
Tickets are $14 for adults and $12 for students per session and are only available at the door. They go on sale at 2:30 p.m. Only cash or school checks made out to UIL/UT-Austin will be accepted.
Marble Falls supporters should arrive by 3:15 p.m. to ensure they get tickets and seats.
“The Storm in the Barn” tells the story of a Dust Bowl-era boy dealing with all the problems of living in a small town in the grasps of a drought as well as the spread of a “shadowy illness” and a specter he can’t tell is real or not.
The selection of the play was difficult for Clark, who wrestled with the decision and had long conversations with the other directors. Fournier said they even broke down potential plays on spreadsheets to compare each one and determine the best fit.
Though “The Storm in the Barn” was the right length for a one-act play, it still needed some work
“You have to find the meat of the story and build the story around that,” Fournier said.
Once they had the story crafted, it was time to put it together with the students.
The UIL limits the number of hours for rehearsals, but off stage, students review films of their performances, go over judges’ critiques, and continue to find ways to get better.
Clark said all of the high school troupes that advanced to state share one thing.
“You can pick a great play, have good directors, and everything else,” he said. “The top thing, though, is they got there because of all the hard work.”
There’s no room for complacency after receiving high marks for a performance. Students and teachers know another set of judges might not be so generous. One-act play scoring is subjective, after all.
“We try to take all that guesswork and uncertainty out of the equation,” Clark said.
Even though Marble Falls has made it through four rounds to get to the state contest, Clark and Fournier believe cast and crew haven’t put on their best performance yet.
“I’m excited for the kids to have their best performance,” Clark said. “I think if the kids have their best show, then it doesn’t really matter what the judges score.”
“What all directors want is to have their kids do the best they can,” she said. “If they do that, it doesn’t matter how we finish because they put their best out there.”
For high school directors, taking a one-act troupe to state is a major milestone. For Fournier and Clark, it’s even more special because both graduated from Marble Falls High School.
After the one-act play contest, Marble Falls isn’t done. Students Charlie McLean and Hailey McCarty will compete Friday, April 26, in the theatrical design contest at state. McLean is in the marketing category, while McCarty is in the hair and makeup category.