Naperville North One Acts offer unique opportunity for theater students and viewers alike

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Photo by Rachael Woods

Grace Aigner, Staff Writer

On the evenings of March 18 and 19, Naperville North High School’s Theater Club and Playwrights Club performed their annual One Acts show. This particular show is unique compared to North’s other theater projects as each play is entirely student created. From the behind the scenes to center stage, Naperville North students take control of the process. This production format is one of the most treasured among students because it presents both creative and social opportunities that are harder to come by in other theater projects. 

As the project is entirely student led, the Theater Club sponsors remain less involved throughout preparation for the show as compared to the other shows throughout the year. Thomas Parry, a Communication Arts teacher and one of Theater Club’s sponsors says that he and fellow sponsors Ms. Kennedy and Mr. Simon keep their distance from rehearsals in order to allow space for students to make the most of this unique creative process.

“We like to not get involved as much because we want them to develop their own friendships and develop their own family in their cast. As we get closer [to performance dates], we get a little bit more hands-on in terms of making sure everyone’s ready to go,” Parry said.

Parry also said  that one of the most valuable opportunities is the creative freedom that students are granted from One Acts. This is because every aspect of the process is authentic to the students.

“Everything is original. We don’t seek out scripts that are already there professionally, we want students to write their own and get that opportunity,” Parry said.

For many participants, the originality of One Acts is what draws them back each year. Rachel Leibforth, a Naperville North senior and president of Theater Club, has been writing and directing One Acts since her freshman year and she says that little can measure up to the thrill of seeing your work on stage.

“It’s one of those moments that you can’t describe and coming back to it every year [is] awe-inspiring when you get to see what you did come to life,” Leibforth said. 

Even when not writing or directing, the ability to take creative liberties as an actor remains a pillar in the One Acts process. Gabriella Chinnici, an NNHS junior and member of Theater Club, explained that the creative freedom actors are given allows for a more personalized performance unlike most roles.

“It’s a lot more rewarding because we get to change things and fit people’s personas in each role. It makes the play a lot more form-fitting to the people in the cast instead of being in a play and us trying to edit ourselves to be the characters the author intended,” Chinnici said.

One Acts are also a foundational opportunity for people interested in theater to become more involved. Rehearsals are usually held in the morning before school, allowing students in other activities to participate. Leibforth says that another one of her favorite things about One Acts is the hodge-podge of people who get involved.

“So many new people try out for it. I think we cast 70 people in the entire production. It’s fun because I got to cast a lot of people that I’ve worked with before and some new people, so it’s been really cool to form kind of a bond between the group,” Leibforth said.

Oftentimes, the new people who try out end up becoming even more involved with theater in the future. Parry says that every year One Acts brings in new students who become active theater participants.

“It happens every year. We have a student or two or ten come out for One Acts and we see their talent and we see how much they really enjoy [theater] and we encourage them to continue getting involved. Some of our best actors’ very first opportunity was One Acts,” Parry said.

One Acts provides the unique opportunity for students to grow. It is a favorite project among Naperville North’s theater community as students understand the specialness of the show. For Leibforth, One Acts is the most rewarding experience because she feels it encapsulates what North’s theater program is all about.

“It’s a culmination of everything we’ve worked towards the entire year and it’s one of the biggest payoffs,” Leibforth said.