On March 8, Lincoln Academy Drama students will travel to the Maine Drama Festival at Medomak Valley High School with the school’s production of The Snow Maiden. This annual Festival allows students to demonstrate a multitude of theater skills from acting and musical composition to lighting, set and costume design. Rules of the One Act competition require that each play be no longer than 35 minutes, with no more than five minutes allowed for setting up and striking the set. Under the direction of Griff Braley Lincoln Academy has won the Regional Drama Festival 11 out of the last 12 years.

The public will have two chances to preview Lincoln’s 2019 One Act Festival entry at the Poe Theater on Saturday, March 2 at 6:00 and 7:15 pm.

This year’s entry includes the element of bun-raku puppetry, a highly formalized Japanese art form. Students worked with Ian Bannon of Figures of Speech Theater Co. in Freeport to conceptualize, build, and operate two puppets that are central characters in the story.

The Snow Maiden is a mythical piece collected from many cultures and in many languages. Lincoln’s version, set in ancient Russian among the Rus people, stems from versions by Andrew Lang (1894) and Alexander Ostrovsky (1873), and was adapted by Griff Braley. The Snow Maiden (also known as “Snegoroushka,” “The Snow Child,” etc.) has been the subject of film, opera and ballet versions under a number of titles. The story is told of Ivan and Maroushka, an aging, childless couple, depicted in puppet form in Lincoln’s version. At the first snow of the year, the two decide to make a child of snow, just for fun. When Snegoroushka comes to life, the play follows the seasons, and the complications of the Snow Maiden’s connection to her parents (Grandfather Frost and Spring Beauty) who have deemed the winter the only time that Snegoushka may stay in human form.

This simple tale has been greatly enhanced with a musical underscore composed and performed on stage by LA seniors Wenxin Liang (guzhang) and Zhen (Wendy) Qin (flutes and percussion). Additional major production elements are handled by students as well, including: choreography by Kayleigh Tolley and May Halm; lighting design by Kai-Lin Shen, costume design by Sequoia Patton; and puppet construction by Jonah Diaute, John Cook, Aria Tan, Logan Heath, Emmie Farrell, and Honora Boothby.

Original student work also includes songs written by Rachael Schuster, additional choreography by dancers Sonny Cumming and Camden LeBel, and set construction led by Ryan Naylor and Emily Harris with help from many ensemble members. Ryan Naylor will handle projections for the show, as storytellers Marina McManus and Emmie Farrell give shape to the entire piece, filled as it is with acting, dance, music, digital imagery, lighting and sound.

Director Griff Braley is enthusiastic about the depth of learning and the quality of artistry demonstrated by the entire cast and crew. “This is a big year for us, as we have a super strong senior class taking on full responsibility for entire elements of the show. And we see the next student theater leaders rising quickly to take on similar tasks. A devised production is complicated and demanding. This work requires dedication, patience and an incredible work ethic, and these kids have all of that. I expect they will make a splash at the festival as they continue to weave the unusually rich tapestry of this play. It will be new every time it is performed!”

The public is invited to preview the production in the Poe Theater on Saturday, March 2. The cast will present the 35 minute play twice with performances at 6:00 pm and 7:15. Admission is $5 or by donation, and there are no reserved seats. Doors will open at 5:45. The 7:15 performance will be followed by the very popular annual “talkback” session where audience members have the opportunity to meet the cast and crew, learn about the rules of the festival, reflect on the play, ask questions about the process, and contribute suggestions based on the judge’s rubric for the festival. This session is hugely helpful for students as they prepare for adjudication at the Regional Festival.

For more information contact director Griff Braley at braley@lincolnacademy.org.