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School Notes: Plays in Just 10 Minutes

Now in its16th season, the Ten-Minute Play Festival at Thetford Academy, which will be held Thursday and Friday night, have become a more than a mainstay in the school’s performing arts calendar. A generation of students has been introduced to the craft of playwriting, with the challenge of trying to tell a compelling, action-packed story in a short span of time.

Presenting such a story isn’t easy. A 10-minute play “forces you to be efficient with character arcs and get what you want accomplished,” said Thetford senior Kit Norton, whose political play The Election is one of nine student-written, directed and acted plays that will be presented this week in the school’s Martha Jane Rich Theater. But for green playwrights, as many Thetford students are, having a play begin and end in a short amount of time is one way of easing into writing dramas.

“It’s really accessible for writers, especially young writers,” said Ray Chapin, who has taught theater at Thetford Academy for 11 years. “It fits anyone who has an interest and an idea.”

The plays in this year’s festival were written in Chapin’s “Writing for Stage and Screen” class last spring, where students learned about Aristotle’s six elements of drama — plot, character, thought, diction, song and spectacle — and then incorporated them into their compositions. Dramatic themes and comedic moments play out in settings as diverse as a street market, a job interview and a high school reunion. The common thread, Chapin said, is that “each one of them has a strong idea at the core of it.”

While finding it challenging to create dialog for a play that’s inspired by a Ray Bradbury story and follows the antics of a cunning puppet, senior Megan Barton said the time limit was just right. “For my first play, I thought it was nice to have a short requirement, because I didn’t really know what I was doing,” she said.

The playwriting class has also been a training ground for budding actors, costume designers and other theater professionals. During the class, senior Haley Grigel discovered “that I like to direct, and I’d never done that before.” In this year’s festival, Grigel is directing The Puppet Show. The biggest challenge in directing a 10-minute play has been the limited amount of time the actors have to meet, develop their characters and block their movement, Grigel said.“It can be difficult, definitely, but with the responsibility will come a pretty cool product,” she said.

The Ten-Minute Play Festival will be performed at 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday at Thetford Academy’s Martha Jane Rich Theater ($5).

Events

Parents and students looking for information about the area’s independent schools can find it at tonight’s Upper Valley Independent School Fair, from 6:30 to 8 at the Kilton Public Library in West Lebanon. Schools represented include Cardigan Mountain School, Crossroads Academy, Estabrook School, Kimball Union Academy, Mid Vermont Christian School, Mount Royal Academy, Open Fields School, The Sharon Academy, Thetford Academy, Upper Valley Waldorf School and Wellspring Waldorf School.

Opportunities

The New Hampshire School Nurses Association is accepting nominations through Feb. 15 for the New Hampshire School Nurse of the Year Award. Nominations are open to registered professional nurses who have been practicing for three or more years, are members of the association, and demonstrate excellence in their field. Nomination forms may be obtained from www.nhschoolnurses.org.

Achievements

Hannah Laplaca of South Royalton, a student at the Community College of Vermont, was named a recipient of the 2012 Student Leadership Scholarship, and received a $1,000 award. Laplaca and other winners were chosen based on their leadership qualities and academic achievement.

Deans’ Lists

These announcements reflect work completed in the fall 2012 semester.

At Clemson University, Robert Paul Mariani of Wilder was named to the school’s President’s List, with a 4.0 grade-point average.

At Coastal Carolina University: Molly G. Dumville of South Royalton and Jennifer A. Lyford of White River Junction.

At Saint Anselm College: Joseph A. Cahill of New London, Karley E. Click of Claremont, Kelsey Hockenbury of Sunapee, Matthew J. Holland of Unity, and John David Staiger of Hanover.

At the University of Delaware: Ariana Haidari of Lebanon.

School Notes appear each Tuesday. Email school news and announcements to kbryan@vnews.com.