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Some wonderful one-acts

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Judging the state one-act festival

FREEPORT - I'll be honest - I'm a bit of a curmudgeon. As a rule, I have relatively little use for the young people of today. To be truthful, though, I didn't have much use for young people even when I was one of them. And I enjoyed my curmudgeonly attitude. Relished it even.

So imagine my surprise when my fist-shaking, 'Get off my lawn!'-shouting ways are met full on by a group of teenagers whose passion, enthusiasm and talent force me to reconsider my sweeping generalizations about the younger generations.

I was privileged to serve as a judge for the Class B State Championships of the Maine One-Act Festival. Not only did I have an absolute boatload of fun, but I was repeatedly presented with kid after kid whose love for the theatre was deep and abiding. And that's the main thing that I took from the experience - the love of the stage is alive and well in Maine high schools.

But that wasn't all. I had the opportunity to watch students from nine different Maine high schools pour their hearts out on the stage. Comedies and dramas, laughter and light balanced by explorations of the darkness - the shows I saw spanned the theatrical spectrum and I consider myself lucky to have had the opportunity to see them.

Oh, and another thing? They were all wonderful to watch.

Now, were these shows all equal? Of course not. In any competition, a winner is always going to be named. But at the risk of sounding like a sappy clich, these kids are all winners. Sure, these schools all already have some hardware from victories achieved at their respective regionals, but it isn't about the trophies - each and every one of them gave everything they had for weeks upon weeks leading up to this competition and not a one of them disappointed.

Talking to these kids in a critical setting, offering them possible solutions to problems both current and potential, might be one of the more rewarding things I've ever had the opportunity to do. Feeding the flames of theatrical passion is something that I absolutely love to do; it was a fantastic opportunity for me to try and pass along my love of the stage. And hearing the insightful, intelligent questions that they had for me was both heartening and humbling. I'm not sure when I've ever felt so helpful. Like there's a tiny possibility that I might actually help one of these kids find his or her theatrical direction.

These are young people who displayed a very real passion across the board. I had worked with younger people before, but never in a capacity such as this. It's a wonderful feeling to be surrounded by scores of teenagers who genuinely care about something. The fire in the eyes of these kids did a whole lot to open my own.

The simple truth is that the experience was an unforgettable one for me; I'd like to thank the students and faculty advisors from Greater Portland Christian School, Hermon High School, Mount Desert Island High School, Waynflete School, Lincoln Academy, Catherine McAuley High School, Madison High School, Yarmouth High School and Fort Kent Community High School; Yarmouth and Hermon may have finished first and second, respectively, but each school should be proud of the fantastic work that they presented. 

I'd also like to express my gratitude and admiration toward the good folks at Freeport High School, who put together a beautifully organized event that ensured a good time was had by all involved. I'd also like to thank my fellow judges - entertaining and engaging people whose passion was also contagious and the MPA and MDC representatives who went above and beyond to ensure a high quality experience for everyone. 

While there is no doubt that the kids had a wonderful experience, at the end of the day I'd be hard-pressed to say that it was more wonderful than mine.

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