The Mount Desert Island High School cast and crew of "Jack, or The Submission" celebrate with their second straight first-place trophy at the Class A State Drama Festival over the weekend in Windham. PHOTO COURTESY OF CHRIS DOUGHERTY

State champs again! MDI wins at Drama Fest

WINDHAM — No one who attended the Regional Drama Fest in Bar Harbor a couple of weeks ago or the Black Rose night last week will be surprised to learn that the Mount Desert Island High School drama program aced it at the state competition held here this past weekend.

The performance of the Eugene Ionesco absurdist play “Jack, or The Submission” won in Class A, the second year in a row and the 10th time overall that the program has won. Singled out for All-Festival Cast honors were Emerson Jeffery, Ethan Leonard, Desmond Reifsnyder and Rosie Avila.

Special commendations also were earned by Piper Charron and crew for her creative masks and video design, by Rosie Avila for her Expressive Choreography and by Evelyn Zumwalt for her Outstanding Lighting Design and Operation.

“The cast was fully committed combined with outstanding technical elements. A seamless production — congrats and thank you!” wrote judge Janet Ross.

“Each performer convinced me that they completely believed in Ionesco’s world — all were totally immersed in the abstract,” said judge Linda Rice.

The third judge, Martin Swinger, thought the performance was “outrageous and expressively bizarre.” “Actors really gave themselves to play,” he wrote, “great ensemble.”

“At the 2017 state final, I was pretty confident that we would win,” said director Casey Rush. “At the beginning of this year’s one act production back in December, I had some doubts. We had lost a load of phenomenal talent to graduation, and while we had some extremely capable and committed returnees, we also had many newbies in critical positions on stage and in the tech crew.”

Not to mention they were tackling a difficult absurdist comedy, which mystified most of his actors at first.

“So, in many ways,” Rush said, “this 2018 championship feels like the greater accomplishment. Not many programs win one state title, much less two in a row. The ‘Jack’ cast and crew grew so much in the three months of the production cycle, culminating in this well-earned win competing against the best programs in the state (Yarmouth, Falmouth, Lincoln Academy and Bonny Eagle).

“To say I am humbled and proud is the worst sort of understatement,” he continued, “but it still hasn’t sunken in.”

Rush said “Jack” will not go on to the New England competition, as the performance schedule here at home is too full.

Ellsworth High School won first place in the Class B competition in Rockland, the first time that two schools from this Eastern region swept the field of first-place trophies.

Nan Lincoln

Nan Lincoln

The former arts editor at the Bar Harbor Times writes reviews and feature stories for The Ellsworth American and Mount Desert Islander.

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