BAR HARBOR — The Eastern Regional of the Maine Drama Festival, a one-act play competition, will take place at Mount Desert Island High School (MDIHS) this Friday and Saturday, March 6 and 7.
Eight schools will take part in the annual event, including Shead High School (Eastport), Washington Academy (East Machias), George Stevens Academy (Blue Hill), Bucksport High School, Sumner High School (Sullivan), Deer Isle-Stonington High School and MDI High School.
The festival opens with Shead at 7 p.m. on Friday, followed by George Stevens at 8 p.m. and MDIHS at 9 p.m. Performances continue on Saturday at 12, 1 and 2 p.m., and again Saturday night at 7 and 8 p.m.
“It’s a really nice event,” said Chris Dougherty, who is in charge of hosting the event at MDIHS. “It’s called a festival for a reason. The students come together to see what their peers are doing artistically. People who love drama are some of the most enthusiastic fans for each other, even if they’re in competition with each other.”
Students must follow strict parameters in their one-act entries. Each play must run no longer than 45 minutes, and there must be no participation from adults. There are also strict set-up and break-down times, Dougherty said.
At the end of the two-day play festival, three judges will choose two, first-place winners to advance to the Maine Drama Festival to compete in the Class B category. The state festival is scheduled for March 20 and 21 at Stearns High School in Millinocket.
During free time periods at the festival this weekend, various theater workshops will be held for interested students. Groups will study working with masks, playwriting and perhaps stage combat, Dougherty said.
“We like what we do here to further the educational mission of the school. It allows a social opportunity for kids from different schools to get together, and it also allows them to learn new things,” Dougherty said. “And, late Saturday night, when we’re waiting for all the tallies of all the scoring, there’ll be visitors and other school’s directors who randomly start playing theater games in the hallways … or somebody starts a dance party. It’s very social and very nice and kind of like the tribe coming together.”