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Lincoln Academy ninth grader Camden LeBel (Flamenco dancer) and senior Tommy Thelander (cajone player) in a rehearsal for Lincoln Academy’s 2018 One Act Play, Blood Wedding

Lincoln Academy’s 2018 Once Act play is a rendition of Federico Garcia Lorca’s Blood Wedding, a modern classic drama first performed in Madrid in 1933. Students selected the play after considering over a dozen titles starting in November of 2017. The play will preview at the Poe on March 2 at 7 pm, and go on to the One Act Play Festival the following weekend.

Maine’s One Act Play Festival is an annual event organized, like athletics, by the Maine Principals Association. The festival is a competition among schools that takes place during two weekends in March. The weekend of March 9-10 is the Regional Festival, and winners at the Regional level take their plays on to the State Festival later in the month.

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Junior Kayleigh Tolley and senior Hannah Davis in in the opening scene of Blood Wedding.

One Act performances are rated by judges not only on acting, but on production features as well: each play can be no longer than 35 minutes long, and cast and crew have five minutes to construct the entire set and five minutes to tear it down after the production. “Lighting and and sound can be particularly challenging on the road,” said Lincoln Academy’s theater teacher and One Act director Griff Braley, “every theater is different, and we need to be prepared to take a play that we have only rehearsed in our intimate Poe Theater to a space two or three times its size.

The “blood” in Blood Wedding (Bodas de Sangre) refers to three family bloodlines in the rural countryside of Andalusia, where Lorca took his inspiration for his story of a bride running away on her wedding day. Using styles from realism to surrealism, the poet/playwright infuses the rhythms of flamenco into the language of the play, as he studies the fatal outcomes of dangerous decision making. Braley said, “students at Lincoln found a particular resonance between this play and their recent performance of West Side Story, and were interested in performing a classical piece with some striking similarities.”

As part of the development of the One Act play, Braley brought in visiting educators to work with students. In mid-January, Lincoln students spent two days with Barbara Martinez, a New York City based flamenco teacher and artist. Martinez is a third-generation flamenco artist who helped students feel the cultural dynamics and force of the style, while teaching a number for flamenco dance passages, palmas (styles of hand clapping) and traditional songs.

Percussionist Tupac Mantillo (left) and guitarist Junaito Pascal (right) working with the One Act cast on the history and principles of Flamenco music

Just before vacation, students attended a teaching workshop with flamenco guitarist Juanito Pascual of Los Angeles, described as “the Ry Cooder of flamenco guitar,” and Tupac Mantilla a Grammy-nominated Percussionist from Bogotá, Colombia. Pascual and Mantilla also visited Liz Matta’s 5:00 Jazz combo, where they performed for and jammed with LA student musicians.

“One Acts this year has been a huge learning experience for me, especially since it’s my first year doing it,” said junior May Halm, who plays the Bride in Lincoln Academy’s One Act production of Blood Wedding. “The visiting flamenco dancers and musicians have helped me learn a lot about the Flamenco culture and helped the entire cast get a feel for what we are building and representing with Blood Wedding.”

“Working with Juanito was very enlightening,” said ninth grade guitarist Scott Petersen, who plays the score for the play along with senior percussionist Tommy Thelander. “He was an incredible musician who helped the entire group learn a little more about flamenco culture and music. He helped me a lot with different aspects of my music and was able to help me figure out more basic aspects of the genre. Both Juanito and Tupac were very kind and very eager to help; they even stayed after to talk to Tommy and I before they started on their long trip home.”

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Junior Jonah Daiute (left) arranged the fight choreography for the final scene of Blood Wedding. Here he duels with senior Nick Maioulis.

Over twenty students have been memorizing, rehearsing, designing and building this production since auditions in early December. “Students’ study of film, music, movement, and text, is preparing them to create a unique and striking 35 minute play for the Maine Drama Festival,” said Braley. “Extensive preparation is a key element in producing a play that rings true to audiences.”

Following the March 2 preview of Blood Wedding at the Poe Theater, students are scheduled to perform at the Regional One Act Festival at Medomak Valley High School in Waldoboro, on Saturday, March 10 at 3:00 pm. They will be adjudicated by theater professionals and hope to advance to the State One Act Festival.

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Junior Rachael Schuster (center) with the ensemble behind her during a rehearsal of Blood Wedding.

With regional wins in ten of the last eleven years, LA’s ensemble is feeling the positive pressure of tradition. Braley said “this is one of the strongest groups of performers we’ve had in many years. They sing, dance, act, create, and work together with strong dedication. It’s a great pleasure to see them absorb, learn and implement all that comes from a deep dive into a classic piece of literature.”

The cast, crew, and musicians in include Nick Maioulis (actor), Kayleigh Tolley (actor), Rachael Schuster (actor), May Halm (actor), Hannah Davis (actor), Aubree Cookson (actor), Akiko Montanaro (actor), Aidan Stapp (actor), John Henry Eddyblouin (actor), Ethan Jones (actor), Honora Boothby (actor), Ava Carmolli (actor), Emily Harris (actor), Zev Cunningham (actor), Emmie Ferrill (actor), Sequoia Patton (costume design), Ryan Kohnert (production design/actor), Kai-Lin Shen, (production design/light operator), Katherine Tolley (choreographer), Camden LeBel (flamenco dancer/actor) Jonah Dauite (fight choreography/actor), Tommy Thelander (percussion-cajon), and Scott Peterson (guitar)

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Student musicians Tommy Thelander (left) and Scott Petersen (right) play the score for Blood Wedding.

The March 2 preview takes place at 7 pm in Lincoln Academy’s Poe Theater, and is open to the public and includes time for audience feedback based on the judging criteria for the festival. No reservations are required. A suggested donation of $5 per person at the door will support the Lincoln Academy theater program.