For one night only, a Pequot Lakes High School cast and crew of students will perform their one-act play for the public.
The performance will be at 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 24, in the Pequot Lakes High School auditorium.
Fourteen students have come together to perform “Any Suspicious Activity” by Roger Nieboer, a one-act play that’s roughly 28 minutes long. Their public performance will serve as extra practice for the competition that will follow.
Directing the play is Gary Hirsch, a Pequot Lakes transplant who taught high school English and directed plays in Mora for 22 years.
Nieboer’s one-act tells of a man at an airport in a rather dream like — or more like nightmarish — situation of forgetting his confirmation number, losing his ticket, forgetting his destination and even forgetting his mother’s maiden name.
An “immaculately conceptual blank,” as the play refers to it.
Military-dressed security guards are ever-present and swiftly carry off anyone suspected of “suspicious activity.”
Though the tone of the play is generally serious, Hirsch said the play has plenty of comic relief.
Hirsch and Nieboer are friends, and Hirsch explained that the plot was inspired by Nieboer’s November airplane ride just after Sept. 11, 2001.
“This (one-act) is Roger’s reaction to how the pendulum swung from too-lax security to take off your shoes,” Hirsch said.
The performance has full costume, but little in the way of set. The minimalism of the set seems to place added focus on the audience.
Hirsch explained that the set is limited because the group will be traveling to perform and compete with other Minnesota schools.
The one-act plays are a Minnesota State High School League sanctioned activity. PLHS students will compete in subsections on Saturday, Jan. 26, in Wadena. If they do well, they’ll go on to sections to strive for the state competition. Performances cannot exceed 35 minutes.
Hirsch explained that one-acts are different from full plays in more ways than just length.
“They’re much more intense,” he said. “I like the format because it builds quicker, and fits with the contemporary audience better.”
He likened the length to a sitcom versus a feature film.
The audience at the Jan. 24 performance will see not only “Any Suspicious Activity” but also a one-act performed by Mora High School, where Hirsch formerly taught. Mora will perform a one-act titled “Infancy.”
Admission is free.