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A shot at one-act glory for local casts

Cloquet to host Section 7AA subsection competition Saturday from 10-4 p.m.


January 24, 2020

Jack Slater

Cloquet actors Lily Goebel, Jonah Bryant-Nikko and Evan McWilliams in a scene from "Tartuffe"

Ready, set, act.

It's not quite a race, but things will be happening pretty fast Saturday when Cloquet High School hosts a one-act play competition in the school's recently remodeled auditorium.

Six different schools will perform in the one-act play subsection event here. Because the Section 7AA competition is in Cloquet, there won't be a separate performance here as there were in the past. The cast welcomes the public to see them perform at noon. Plays will be presented from 10 a.m. through about 4 p.m. as school casts perform about every hour. Other participating schools include Hermantown, North Branch, Denfeld, East and Hibbing.

Cloquet director Alex Goebel thinks this cast and this play - an adaptation of Molière's comedy "Tartuffe" - have what it takes to win their way to the Section 7A One-Act section competition on Feb. 1 in Princeton. The Cloquet show will begin at noon.

"We are definitely ready," Goebel told the Pine Knot News, noting that his crew of highly motivated actors have been ahead of schedule all along. "Since they came back from winter break, we've just been honing different aspects that we hope will impress the judges. But you never know."

Theater is, after all, subjective. Perhaps the judges won't be wowed by the modern and shorter adaptation of the 355-year-old play. Maybe they don't like to laugh.

But humor isn't all that the actors have to offer.

Goebel likened his actors to athletes, talking about how the small cast and crew (12 actors and two crew members) work well together as a group, and the hard work they've put in to exploring their characters and getting the details right.

"This is one of their sports, the thing that they love and they really put a lot of attention to it," he said. "It's great to work with such dedicated kids."

Because the competition is in Cloquet, there won't be a separate performance here outside of Saturday's competition. But Goebel and his cast and crew are hoping people will come see Cloquet perform at noon, or even come for the entire event, which runs from 10 a.m. through about 4 p.m., as one school performs every hour. Entrance is free, although there will be concessions for sale - to be consumed in the lobby outside of the recently renovated auditorium - to help raise money for the one-act program.

This is Goebel's first time directing Cloquet's one-act but the 2010 CHS grad has been directing the spring play at his alma mater since 2015. He said he loves the spring shows, but one-act is different because of the smaller cast and all the elements that are judged as part of the competition.

First among those is time. Students have 10 minutes to set the stage, then they must complete their performance within 35 minutes or be disqualified.

Judges will consider whether characters and emotions portrayed seem authentic, how the actors work together, how the language of the play is handled - including meaning, diction, difficulty - and more.

Jack Slater

Cloquet actors Evan McWilliams and Kirsten Papas in a scene from "Tartuffe"

"The words we're doing are not necessarily [Molière's] words," Goebel said. "The original is over two hours long, and laugh-out-loud funny for the time. It's still very funny."

Think "slapstick" versus subtle, he said.

The play itself revolves around a man and his mother who have fallen under the spell of sly con artist named Tartuffe, who represents himself as a religious devotee. Other members of the household, including one very sensible straight-talking housemaid, see Tartuffe for what he is: a fraud. When their guest finally reveals his true colors, the household descends into chaos. But don't worry, things work themselves out in the end.

It should be noted that Tartuffe, a French word, translates to "imposter" or "hypocrite" in English.

"This adaptation of the 1664 French comedy finds our cast of characters in 2020, more relatable and more ridiculous than ever," Goebel said.


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