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In 35 minutes or less: DLHS cast preparing for one-act play competition

Detroit Lakes High School will present the play "Lafayette No. 1" as its entry in the 2019 Minnesota State High School League One-Act Play competition, which gets underway this Thursday with subsections in Moorhead. (Vicki Gerdes / Tribune)1 / 5
Harris (Jacob Bergstrom) attempts to deliver a rousing speech to the orphans in a scene from "Lafayette No. 1," which will be presented by the Detroit Lakes High School one-act play cast this Tuesday, Jan. 22 at Detroit Lakes Middle School's George Simson Auditorium. (Vicki Gerdes / Tribune)2 / 5
Orphans Lizzy Landry (Annika Gulseth) and Harris Carrol (Jacob Bergstrom) have grown closer as Lizzy works to save the Forgotten from their fate. (Vicki Gerdes / Tribune) 3 / 5
Orphans Lizzy (Annika Gulseth, left), Moab (Victor Jiminez) and Harris (Jacob Bergstrom) in a scene from "Lafayette No. 1," the one-act play that will be presented by Detroit Lakes High School in 2019 competition. (Vicki Gerdes / Tribune) 4 / 5
As the other Forgotten orphans sleep nestled among the gravestones of the cemetery that has become their temporary home, Lizzie (Annika Gulseth, left) and Harris (Jacob Bergstrom) share a tender moment. (Vicki Gerdes / Tribune)5 / 5

For fans of high school sports, January is a month filled with trips to see basketball and hockey games, Nordic and alpine skiing races, wrestling and gymnastics meets. But for theater buffs, it's all about the one-act play.

The format is simple: Within the space of 35 minutes, a cast and crew of no more than 20 students must set up, perform and take down the set for a single-act theatrical presentation, in competition with other schools from their subsection. Casts that exceed the time limit are penalized in their final score. Three schools from each subsection move on to section competition, with the top team from each section advancing to state.

This year, Detroit Lakes High School one-act play director Nikki Caulfield has chosen to present "Lafayette No. 1" by Mandy Conner, a story about a group of homeless orphans known as the Forgotten, who live on the streets of 1816 New Orleans in the midst of a raging yellow fever epidemic.

"Spoiler alert: It does not go well for them," Caulfield joked, noting that while only two deaths occur during the play — one adult, and one of the orphans — the orphans' ultimate fate is not the stuff of which happy endings are made.

For the past month and a half, the cast of 15 has been hard at work preparing for Subsection 8AA North competition, which gets underway this Thursday, Jan. 24 at Moorhead High School.

"We'll be performing at 4:45 p.m.," Caulfield said, adding that she feels confident they will be ready, as rehearsals have been going well thus far.

"This is a fun crew," she added. "They're kind of goofy, but in a good way."

Those who would like to see the fruits of the cast's labor, and are unable to attend Thursday's competition, can get a little sneak peek at a public performance set for this Tuesday, Jan. 22 at the Detroit Lakes Middle School's George Simson Auditorium. Curtain time is 7 p.m., and tickets are just $2 each.

If Detroit Lakes advances to section competition, they will be heading to Becker on Thursday, Jan. 31 in an attempt to secure a berth at the State One-Act Play Festival, set for Thursday and Friday, Feb. 7-8 at O'Shaughnessy Auditorium, located on the campus of St. Catherine University in St. Paul. Teams competing against Detroit Lakes at subsections include Brainerd, Fergus Falls, Moorhead, Little Falls and Alexandria, while the other subsection includes Becker, Foley, Rocori, Sartell-St. Stephen, Sauk Rapids-Rice and St. Cloud Tech.

'Lafayette No. 1' Cast

The Adults:

• Anna Landry — Piper Thorson

• Julien Poydras- Tom Felix

• Margaret Haughrey- Natalie Eidenschenk

• Yellow Jack- Kya Rosell

• Tourist (doubled role) — Natalie Eidenschenk

"The Forgotten" (Orphans):

• Lizzy Landry — Annika Gulseth

• Harris Carrol- Jacob Bergstrom

• Hannah Meyers- Hannah Hagen

• Moab (William Limon) — Victor Jimenez

• Maggie McCarthy- Taylor Johnson

• Geo Jackson- Gretta Schulberg

• Peggy Hatcher- Kaitlyn Peterson

• Fink (Felix Zallesky)- Lily Sundby

• Marie Warner- Sammy Collins

• Margarette Warner- Violet Bierderman

• Catherine Blake- Maria Sauer

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 18-plus years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Detroit Lakes School Board. 

(218) 844-1454