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Students stride stages statewide: The 2022 Maine Drama Festival

March 23, 2022
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Stages all over the state are preparing for an onslaught of theatrical excitement.

The Maine Drama Festival is back and in person this year, with nearly 60 Maine high schools dispersing all over the state to tread the boards with their one-act play performances. The MDF will take place on March 25 and 26 at eight locations. Those locations are as follows:

Camden Hills Regional High School; Ellsworth High School; Stearns High School; Gorham High School; Mount Desert Island High School; Yarmouth High School; Kennebunk High School; and Winthrop High School.

(It should be noted that some, but not all of these locations will be allowing in-person audiences due to varying circumstances surrounding the pandemic. Be sure to check ahead before planning to visit any of these sites and please follow any and all guidelines/requirements put in place by each location.)

I am lucky enough to know several people who are heavily involved in bringing these one-act plays to life, teachers and administrators who devote themselves fully and passionately to a task that, to be frank, is often a thankless one. Suffice it to say, they know who they are – and the young people with whom they work are incredibly fortunate.

In the past, I have had the honor to serve as a judge for the MDF, both at the regional and state levels. I have seen firsthand the blood, sweat and tears that pour forth from every one of these kids as they strive to bring forth that magic. And here’s the thing – they’re all successful. Every single one of them. Sure, there are winners crowned – that’s the nature of competition – but at the risk of spouting Pollyanna-ish cliches, they’re ALL winners. They really are.

As someone who has devoted much of my time and energy to theatrical endeavors, I KNOW how hard these kids work to make these shows happen. I’ve been there. And while I acknowledge that there will likely always be a divide between the realm of scholastic athletics and the arts, I also would state without equivocation that it should not be so.

These young people devote just as much of themselves to their craft as anyone who ran the floor during the basketball tournaments earlier this month. Their commitment, their passion – it’s as deep and abiding as any you’ll find on a playing field. If you don’t understand that reality, well …

You’ve never pushed your way through a late-night tech rehearsal or stayed up into the wee hours learning lines. You’ve never been faced with an eleventh-hour problem that requires a spit-and-baling-wire solution that is so crazy that it just might work. You’ve never felt that indescribable something that comes from sharing the stage with a group of people just as dedicated and smart and unusual as yourself.

I’ve been on teams and I’ve been in casts and guess what? Those experiences have a hell of a lot more in common than you might expect. And many of the lessons learned by taking part, well – they’re awfully similar as well. You learn personal responsibility and delegation. You learn the value of hard work and the power of passion. You learn how to work with others in service to a shared goal. You learn leadership and self-respect. You learn.

This may all come off as a bit of a ramble, and that’s OK. I get a little fired up when I talk about this stuff because I believe the arts to be a vital part of our schools, both within the curriculum and outside of it. And I know how overworked and underappreciated the teachers and directors who make this stuff happen are – I’ve seen it with my own eyes. Yet they keep going, because they understand just how incredibly valuable these opportunities can be.

In short, I am thrilled to see the Maine Drama Festival’s return. You should be too. Actors, designers, playwrights, you name it – if you can, try to find time to check out the work of these immensely talented young people. I promise you it will be well worth the effort.

Last modified on Wednesday, 23 March 2022 12:00

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