Winter One-Acts: A unique experience for and from Sandburg students

Sophia Dorantes, Staff Reporter

The Winter One-Acts are put on every February at Carl Sandburg High School. However, what makes them different from other productions is that they are student-led. 

The short one-act plays, overseen by teacher Tom McDonough, are written and directed entirely by senior students. This year, there were three shows: “He Died a Clown” by Maco Jeleniewski, “The Diva on the Delaware” by Phoebe Hodge, and “Channel Surfing,” cowritten by Kennedy Boshardt, Addison Manning, Maura O’Connor, and Jenna Rahman. “Channel Surfing” was an exception to the usual seniors-only rule, since there weren’t as many shows as previous years. 

All of the plays this year were comedy-based. “He Died a Clown” was about a student named Robin who confronts his fear of clowns by attending clown school. “The Diva on the Delaware” is a parody of a famous painting, in which Washington is very cocky and full of himself. Finally, “Channel Surfing” reenacts scenes from Dance Moms and Glee. 

This year, performances were held Friday, February 3 at 7:00pm and Sunday, February 5 at 2:00pm. There were also school day performances the following Monday, for which teachers were able to sign up to take their classes to attend performances. Each play was performed multiple times, with actors and crew being exempt from class to put on the shows.

One-acts are original ideas, and can become anything the writer wants. Of her play, Maco said, “I originally wrote my one-act over the summer, when I was early in my college application process; because I was there, I wanted to inject some really dry humor into my personal experience and share it with others. I started by thinking of the most absurd thing that I could relate to school, and I was reminded that a lot of my family actually went to professional clown school!”

Similarly, Phoebe got her idea from school. She said, “Last year we analyzed the piece Washington Crossing the Delaware and there are a lot of different meanings to it depending on which way you see it. History can be very comical at times looking through a modern lens. I wanted to write it because I love the arts and I knew I would regret it If I didn’t.”

Both senior directors also commented on how different directing is from performing in both fun and challenging ways. Maco explains, “It’s kinda freeing. It’s nice to see your work on the stage, and hear people—both actor and audience—laugh at the jokes you make. It never felt like a power play at any time, just a collaboration.”

Phoebe also thought of it as a new experience, saying that “Directing is super different from performing because you have to think of the logistics and how something is seen by a crowd and how well it will be received.”

In addition, the directing experience and the school’s theater programs in general provide useful background for seniors looking to continue their theater careers after high school. Of her college goals, Phoebe explains, “I am planning on becoming an art director and if I have the opportunity to do anything in film or theater I will definitely go for it.”

Maco, who participates often in Sandburg productions, says “Sandburg theater has helped me to improve my networking skills, and my ability to work with people. I get the chance to work alongside so many talented people. Here, we elevate each other, and I’ve had the opportunity to learn how to be a capable leader and approachable person in a professional setting.”

The accomplishment of creating and collaborating on a new show is something significant and special. “You get a mish-mosh of different ideas from all different types of people. Not only that, but it is very independent and we get to create something that we are proud of,” Phoebe says.

But above all, One-Acts are uniquely Sandburg experience that gives students an opportunity for expression and connection. Of her experience, Maco says, “The flexibility of One-Acts is great, but it’s also a great way to get to know people better! My cast was comprised of students from every grade, and getting to know the humor of each person was really interesting.”