Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

February 28, 2013

Dreamy show chosen by AHS

Andover High hosts drama competition, presents 'Priscilla Dreams the Answer'

Judy Wakefield
Staff Writer

---- — We dream, often about something that is bothering us or stressing us out.

Poor Priscilla dreams a lot, only to wake up and feel so lost because she has no answers for her dreams. She spends her days (and nights) searching for answers. Aliens call her collect at 3 a.m. and they want answers, too.

“Priscilla Dreams the Answer” has been described as a disjointed, yet charming and bewildering story. Somehow, Priscilla and her dreams make emotional sense, many reviewers have said.

On Saturday, March 2, at the Collins Center you can see if you think Priscilla’s dreams make sense -- or decide this alien-aided plot with Zip and Zop is just too much. Andover High School’s Drama Guild is hosting a regional preliminary event in the Massachusetts High School Festival, sponsored by the Massachusetts Educational Theater Guild. Under the direction of Drama Director Susan Choquette, AHS is presenting Walt McGough’s comedy, “Priscilla Dreams the Answer.”

“I read an article about a year ago profiling a local playwright named Walt McGough. His plays looked really interesting to me so I looked him up online and I found this play. It’s a gem and I thought it would make a great festival piece,” Choquette said.

Also competing at Saturday’s event are drama guilds from Melrose, Winthrop, Bradford Christian, Central Catholic, Stoneham, Tyngborough and Tewksbury high schools. They are all hoping to move on to the semi-finals. Eight high schools perform at AHS on Saturday, including Andover. Choquette said there are 14 sites around the state, including AHS, each hosting eight one-act plays by high schoolers.

The Massachusetts High School Festival is considered a premier event for high school drama departments. The competition is organized on three levels – preliminary, semi-final and state.

Student excellence in acting and technical design is recognized at each level. Two high schools chosen at the State Festival represent Massachusetts in the New England Drama Festival, the regional showcase of secondary school theater.

Andover was a state finalist last year in the festival. But, Choquette indicates she is not a director who assumes she’ll always repeat previous accolades.

“Oh, I never make that kind of prediction. We just put together the best production we can and let the judges decide,” she said. “We try to put the emphasis on the festival aspect and not the competition part. It’s a great lesson in believing in your own artistic merit and integrity no matter what value someone else places on it. We try to create a unified event and go from there.”

Choquette said it’s all about having a production one can be proud of, no matter what the outcome.

A cast of 16 actors - nine principals, seven ensemble members - make up this year’s entry and the actors are working hard to make themselves and the AHS drama department proud, she said.

Massachusetts High School Festival: 8 plays for $10WHA: Local round of drama competition FEATURING: 8 one-act plays by high school thespians, including Andover High WHEN: Saturday, March 2, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. WHERE: Collins Center COST: $10 to see any or all 8 plays, tickets available at the door MORE INFO: Massachusetts Educational Theater Guild, metg.org