By Nan Lincoln
Special to The Ellsworth American
ELLSWORTH — A lot has changed since area high schools have been able to perform plays on stage before a live audience. But the winning ways of both Ellsworth High School’s Theatre of the Mad Jesters and Mount Desert Island High School, which each hosted a section of the Maine State Regional Drama Festival last weekend, haven’t changed.
Each school took home top honors for their riveting productions of the one-act plays “Slipping” and “Metamorphoses,” by Franz Kafka.
Multitalented EHS senior Madeline Henry received well-deserved multiple awards and commendations for her play, a dark fable about a broken family beginning to heal after an encounter with faerie folk and a mysterious changeling. Henry wrote her play as a senior “Capstone” project for the school’s Academy of Performing Arts. Not only did the young playwright’s effort score top honors for her school, she also took home an All-Festival Cast award for her portrayal of the changeling girl Casia, and another victory for her excellent costume design and for her overall artistic vision, which included the set design. As if that weren’t enough accolades for the young woman, during Sunday afternoon’s results announcement, director Jasmine Ireland tearfully surprised her student with a National Heart of the Arts award for her extraordinary contribution to the culture of her school.
This was the first time a student-written play has won the regional round of the drama fest and it is a pity that due to continuing safety concerns the show stops here with no final competition at the state level.
Another first was chalked up for the school’s tech team, which managed to roll out Joe Lewis’s realization of the young playwright’s set design, including an impressive magical forest and a charming cottage, in the allotted time.
A rather stunned Henry commented after an encore performance of “Slipping” what an exciting process it was seeing her work evolve from the page to the stage. Her ensemble of faerie folk (Lindsay Cirard, Pine Hanson, Maeve Rodgers, Rylynn Clark and Felix Markosian) was also named to All-Festival Cast.
Over on Mount Desert Island, accolades were aplenty too for director Casey Rush’s production of “Metamorphoses.”
In addition to winning the overall Downeast regional championship, the ensemble acting award went to Bryce MacGregor, Eva Crikelair, Alifair Durand and Ly Dillon. Other All-Festival Cast awards went to Ly Dillon, Rex DeMuro, Mia Eason and Hayden Braun.
The set design and construction by Zoë Eason, Tessa Sanborn and Avery Preston-Schreck was also lauded by judges and Aidan Fisichella received a special commendation for his insect sound accompaniment.