‘Our Place’ wins region, takes 2nd place at state

Emma Young

A small wooden dock sets the stage for the play “Our Place,” a story of five lives connected by one common theme.

“Our Place,” directed by theater and film teacher Jacob Dreiling, won the Region One Act Play Competition for GHSA Region 5-AAAAA in October before finishing second in the state Class 5A competition on November 19th.

“The plot is not necessarily a plot,” Dreiling said. “It’s five different scenes that have nothing to do with each other, but they all take place at this dock on a lake. In all the scenes, at some point, someone says ‘This is our place,’ so that’s the idea behind it.”

The play was written by Terry Gabbard, a colleague of Dreiling on the Georgia Thespian Board. Every scene depicts a different story that takes place in the same place, on a dock.

“One scene is about a guy who runs into his ex-girlfriend, who he had taken to that exact place a few weeks ago while he’s on a date,” junior D’mitry Wdowin, who plays Al, said. “Another is about a woman who is trying to help her father fight his dementia. The scene I’m in is about a father trying to bond with his family.”

Schools are judged based on a rubric, but awards are also given to best actors, actresses and sets. At the State Competition, Lizzie Lyman and Dani Kote won “All-Star” cast awards. At the Region Competition, Adren Dalia and Wesley Stewart won “All-Star” cast awards, Lizzie Lyman won best actress and they were awarded best set.

“Performing on stage at the state competition was so surreal,” Lyman, who plays Sydney, said. “I can barely remember it, because it just felt so natural and in the moment. I do remember that afterwards, so many strangers came up to me crying and hugging and it really just moved me that I could make that much of an impact with my acting.”

For the cast, seeing the results of their practice was a very impactful moment. Midtown beat Warner Robins High School, two-time State One-Act Competition Champions, to win second place.

“I personally was breathless when we were announced as second place,” Wdowin said. “It wasn’t first but this was the highest Midtown has ever gotten at state competition and to know that something we had worked so hard on was so highly rated was overjoyed.”

For Dreiling, the most rewarding part of the competition is watching other school’s pieces at the competition.

“The best part about doing all of this is seeing other schools’ shows,” Dreiling said. “It’s really wonderful to get to sit down and see some really good theater. Winning is so subjective and hard; it’s only three people’s opinions, but it’s really fun to go and for the students to see other people’s works.”

For the One Act Play competition, schools have to design a set and prepare a one act piece. The performances typically last 30 minutes to an hour.

“At the competition, we get our set pieces and props backstage and then wait for the announcer to call our school and give us the go ahead,” Wdowin said. “We have 55 minutes to put up the set, perform and completely take our set off stage.”

 The competition provides a challenge for casts because they only have a short amount of time to prepare and rehearse their plays. The cast worked on “Our Place” for around five weeks and only had three rehearsals per scene and one extra rehearsal between the Region and State competition. As a result, cast members had to do much of their practice on their own. 

“We did a lot of preparation ourselves and worked on our roles at home; so, a lot of it was prepared individually,” Dalia said. “We were able to pull it off in that amount of time because of the amount of work we did outside of practice.”

Dalia, who plays Beth, believes everyone’s energy in preparing the play added to their success, even with the short time frame.

“Everyone was so excited about putting it on, there was a lot of enthusiasm,” Dalia said. “That, combined with the ensemble being diligent about doing their own work and going to rehearsal, helped the group as a whole.”

Aside from having a limited time to prepare for the competition, the set also presented a unique challenge. It had to be produced in a short time frame and adapt to the stage, while also staying true to the story of ‘Our Place.’

“The hardest part about this play is that it all takes place on a dock, so the rest of the area around the dock is water,” Dreiling said. “Normally, you have an entire stage to work with, but we had these tiny little strips of wood. When we started trying to do more movement, it posed a problem, especially when you have fourteen actors on stage.”

Junior Sophia Lenhart designed the dock and wanted to ensure the dock looked as realistic as possible. Art teacher John Brandhorst helped guide students in the tech theater classes with assembling and constructing the dock.

“I designed the set so that it would be able to be split up into pieces and fit onto the truck, while still giving it the character of a broken dock,” Lenhart said. “I also did my best to design it so that it looked as close to a real dock, without it being too heavy.”

From this production, Wdowin hopes he can help teach younger members of theater next year and build on the positive environment.

“Working on this play really taught me what it’s like to be with such an amazing and caring group of people and how even competitions can be a fun and friendly experience,” Wdowin said.  “I will definitely use all the knowledge to help myself and others with their skills in theater, especially seeing that I’ll be a senior next year.”