North students sit in the director’s chair for One-Act festival

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North Attleborough High students rehearse “Spooky” one of the performances in Saturday's One-Act Play Festival. Staff Photo/Max Bowen
Lucas Manso (left) and Trish Smallwood were among the contestants in the dating show turned murder mystery in “The Dangers of Being Single.” Staff Photo/Max Bowen

By Max Bowen-max.bowen@northstarreporter.com

Several members of the high school’s theater program are experiencing what it’s like to lead a cast and crew in this weekend’s One Act Play Festival.

The festival consists of three one-act plays, each led by NAHS students. The event gives them the chance to direct, and for these actors and actresses, it’s an entirely new role. Dylan Pizura, who directs “Your Brain On Social Media,” said it was difficult, but a lot of fun. The ongoing pandemic provided a unique challenge, as sometimes needed to work around people being absent or sick.

It’s been a lot of fun and a great experience,” he said.

Lucas Manso, director of “The Dangers of Being Single,” said that being in charge means that sometimes you need to put your foot down. During a rehearsal on Tuesday, he would call out when people spoke too fast or needed to project more. Mask are required of all cast, and so a strong voice is a must for the show. Manso likes to take a balanced approach when it comes to leading.

As the director, you view all the people as your cast members and you have to give them direction,” he said. “But when you’re in the cast, you’re just kind of focused on what you’re doing, mostly.”

Alexandra Nikou is the director of “Spooky,” and said being director has been great and she enjoyed working with the cast. She described the job as one in which you help the cast improve—not only in their specific roles, but in acting as a whole.

One of my main goals was to make sure that everyone had a good time,” said Nikou. “And I think I achieved that.”

(L-R) MJ Gagne, Meagan Lee, and Hannah Bell explain the myriad world of social media in a rehearsal of “Your Brain On Social Media,” an adaptation of a play of the same name. Staff Photo/Max Bowen

The story behind the show

Each of the three plays offers a unique and interesting tale. “The Dangers of Being Single” combines a murder mystery with a dating game show. Manso said there’s a contrast between the airheaded, fame-seeking contestants and the very real murders around them.

So they’re all here to get famous and look for love,” said Assistant Director Sophia Daniels. “But then a murder ends up happening and several murders end up happening.”

As the story continues, the contestants try to work out what’s happened, and between the pose-offs and attempts to back-stab one another (both figuratively and literally), there’s a lot of laughs along the way. Manso wrote the story, saying he had always wanted to do a horror comedy and was inspired by reality shows.

I just wanted to do something that was funny and stupid, but you laugh, and that was the best part,” he said.

This is Your Brain on Social Media” was adapted for the festival from another play of the same name. Pizura said in freshman year he took on a project where he had to find a play and figure out how he could produce it. The story centers on the dangers of social media and Pizura felt this modern concept would be good to work with.

We had to adapt it to the time constraints and cut some of scenes,” he said. “So it’s a little modified, but it still sticks to the original script.”

Assistant Director Sarah Flaherty said they took out those scenes that were too long or required the cast to take on too many roles. Pizura added that there’s almost 30 characters in the original story and his cast is 13.

Double or triple casting was kind of difficult,” he said.

Spooky,” takes place in a haunted manor and follows a new employee who tries to save the spirits and employees from a cruel boss. It was written by Nikou’s best friend Aayush Adak, who asked her to direct it. She liked how it portrayed the spirits as people who were caught in a difficult situation.

I liked how it was sort of a twist on the normal idea of what a haunted mansion is,” she said.

It was this festival that introduced Nikou to the theater program as a freshman. Back then she was part of the cast, and said being in the festival was the highlight of the year.

I think without that experience, I probably wouldn’t even be in the theater company today,” said Nikou. “I wouldn’t have found this experience that I love so much, and so I wanted to give that to someone else to maybe help someone else find the enjoyment in theater that I did.”

The One-Act Play Festival takes place on Saturday, Jan. 15, at 7 p.m. For more information, call the North Attleborough High School at 508-643-2115.