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The show must go on! While the last year has been anything but normal, students at Crookston High School will once again get to participate in the One-Act Play competition, albeit via a different medium.

This year the Crookston High School drama department is taking on producing the play “Dark Road” which dramatizes Ravensbrück, an actual Nazi Concentration Camp for women that operated 90 kilometers north of Berlin from 1939 to 1945. “It is about a women’s concentration camp in World War II shortly before liberation by the Russians,” said Carlson. “It involves two German sisters. One ends up becoming a guard at the camp and her sister, Lise, is a sympathizer of the Jewish situation. We meet some of the prisoners. See some horrible stuff simulated that happened in and around what Ravensbrück was. They were doing experiments on – they called them bunnies – these young girls, and they really did this. It goes in and out of the present into the past.”

Carlson said the play is dark, but it’s also history. “In the present, where we start our play, this young guard – Greta – is being interviewed by a journalist,” said Carlson. “We found out later he was himself a prisoner at Auschwitz. He’s trying to do a story on her. Trying to find some bit of humanity before she is hung because she has been tried and sentenced to death by the Russians in the weeks (following) the liberation. There is a true case of a young woman who was 22, who this did indeed happen to, so I think this whole story is based on the actual situation. It’s dark, of course, but it’s history, and these kids are doing a marvelous job.”

Senior Victoria Proulx plays the lead role. “The girl that plays what you’d probably call the lead is Victoria Proulx,” said Carlson. “She played Susan B. Anthony last year. She’s a very tried and true actor. She handles all of this very well. She has to go into the past and present and through a whole gambit of emotions. You see her journey in giving herself over to the Reich and accepting that belief system up to the point she is going to be hung. She does not recant. She does not repent.”

Nine other students make up the cast and crew, along with the costumer and set designers.
Georgie French is playing the journalist, Daimler.   Zara Baig plays Lise. Logan Melvie plays the part of the Commandant of Ravensbrück. Linnea French plays Ingrid, and she is also one of the women guards. “You’ll only meet two women guards and one women guard in the camp. There are three women – Samantha Rezac, Brianna Colborn, and Ella Kiel – who play several roles as hecklers in the beginning and end. They play the prisoners and the women being brought into the camp,” said Carlson. “Ethan Erdman plays many roles as well. He is a U.S. Guard, the doctor doing experiments on the girls, a Nazi Guard, and back to a U.S. Guard at the end. My light technician and assistant is Sophia Rezac. I count on her so much. Of course, the wonderful costumes are being handled by Phyllis Hagen and Gaye Wick. And Pat Seidel is our set builder.”

Due to COVID-19, Carlson said they wouldn’t be able to have a public performance. “I’m very sad that we can’t do a public performance this year because this would’ve been a wonderful show to have produced for the public,” said Carlson. “We are going to do a parent’s night with a limited crowd. And I think there will be an opportunity to see it because the students will be allowed to have their own video of it. Not to be used on YouTube or Facebook or anything like that, but they will have their own copy of it to own.”

COVID-19 also impacted the way the cast prepared for the show with online rehearsals for six weeks. Carlson said even though it felt like going backward, rehearsing over Zoom worked.  “In a way, the process, even though we were going backward, it was kind of good because we did a lot of character development,” said Carlson. “I got to see their little faces without masks. Usually, by the time we get to on-stage rehearsal, we have quite a bit of time until they’re off book and memorized. They came back off-book immediately. They were already memorized when they got on stage. It was a backward process, but it actually rather worked for us.”

The traditional sub-section meet has also been reorganized. Rather than perform in front of students from the other schools and the judges, the competition will be held virtually like many other gatherings. “We were to be the host school this year,” said Carlson. “The sub-section we were hosting wasn’t supposed to be until January 28. Now we have to have our video made and submitted by January 26. I’m still thinking it’s going to be adjudicated on the 28th. I’m still assuming that is when it will be tallied, and we’ll find out.”

Cast & Crew –
Greta – Victoria Proulx
Daimler – Georgie French
Lise – Zara Baig
Commandant – Logan Melvie
Ingrid – Linnea French
Person/prisoner/woman – Samantha Rezac, Brianna Colborn, and Ella Kiel
Guard/Doctor – Ethan Erdman
Lights/Assistant to the Director – Sophia Rezac
Director – Beth Carlson
Costumers – Phyllis Hagen and Gaye Wick
Set Builder – Pat Seidel

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