Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Theatre. . . Competition?!

Without much notice or fanfare, high school theater* groups around the state prepare one-act plays for a theater competition--the Michigan Interscholastic Forensic Association competition, or MIFA, as it is known--throughout January and February.

In the theatre competition, actors and crew operate under time constraints, as well as the requirement that the play be portable--and they get feedback from judges. They present at "districts," then at "regionals," and then--if they are lucky--to "states."

One year the requirement is to pick a comedy, and the next year the requirement is to pick a serious play. Directors can choose a musical or a straight play; a play that was written as a one-act, or cut a play down.

This year, at least four local schools are participating, and in fact, a regional competition is occurring at Skyline and a state competition is occurring at Chelsea Dexter High School, although Dexter has not submitted a MIFA play. (This year, Community and Huron are not performing one-acts, but Huron will be doing Sweeney Todd the weekend of February 9th and look for Community High School's PG-version of Avenue Q in the spring.)

This coming weekend (February 3d and 4th, 2012), both Skyline and Pioneer high schools are doing public performances. Both of them are on Friday and Saturday nights at 7:30 p.m.

Pioneer High School is performing Spring Awakening, a play following the lives of ten teenagers as they move from adolescent to adult.

Skyline High School is performing Amadeus, about Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Antonio Salieri.

Chelsea High School and Milan High School are also performing.

Update 2/6/11: So is Lincoln High School. Lincoln High School is performing J. M. Barrie's Half an Hour.

You may recall that Milan High School had four students die over the last year, and at least a couple of the deaths were suicides. The play that they have chosen is called The Bright Blue Mailbox Suicide Note, and I understand--from someone who saw the play at districts--that the play opens with projections of news stories about the students who died. Intense? Yes. But also an important memorial to them. I've never seen the play but I think using the arts as a way to work through emotional issues is a terrific idea.

As for Chelsea--well, I'm still looking for the title of their play--and I will hope to update this.

As far as I can tell, neither Milan nor Chelsea has public performances, but I could be wrong about that.

If you get a chance to go to one of the public performances, they're short and you will probably find that the way the set and crew are integrated into the performance makes the experience more interesting. The theme for this year is "serious drama," and the topics are. They are appropriate for high school students, but these are probably not the right plays for your eight-year old.

Update 2/6/11: The current schedule for the regional event at Skyline High School has Skyline, Pioneer, and Lincoln performing there, but not Chelsea or Milan.

*theater or theatre, I can't decide which to use. Read more here.


  1. I see that Amadeus is supposed to have really good music. I am wondering if this will be a recording or if they will have students playing live. That would be really cool. Also, are these plays back to back so that we could go at 7:30 Friday and see both Pioneer and Skyline?

  2. Although apparently the young man who plays the role of Mozart does play the piano, he doesn't play it in the show--there is a recording.

    This weekend, Skyline's play is at Skyline at 7:30 on Friday and Saturday; and Pioneer's play is at Pioneer at the exact same times! Too bad! And I should also point out that both Amadeus and Spring Awakening are full-length plays that have been "cut down" to fit the rules of the one-act MIFA competition.

    But next weekend they will both be performing at Skyline, along with five other high schools, all day long. (Each show is under 45 minutes.) I don't know the lineup (what time each show is on) but I think you could go in and watch.

  3. Wonderful information. does have additional information. They list that at Skyline the following schools are set to compete (in order of performance)

    West Bloomfield
    Anchor Bay

    Members of the public can attend the performances, and they don't charge admission. Though if you want to see them all it's a long day as there is a lot of time between shows for each school to set up and prepare to go on. Each show gets about 30 minutes prep, and then 45 minutes to perform, and some clean up time.

  4. Additionally, Milan and Chelsea are both performing, however they are division II schools, so they have different regional sites.

    Milan is at Avondale, and Chelsea is at Olivet.

  5. Thanks Anonymous! The information wasn't on the MIFA web site the last time I checked, but here are the details about the performance times for the performances at Skyline on Saturday:

    West Bloomfield High School spike at 9:00 am
    perform at 9:30 am

    Pioneer High School spike at 10:30 am
    perform at 11:05 am

    LUNCH 11:40 - 12:40pm

    Anchor Bay High School spike at 12:30 pm
    perform at 1:00 pm

    Lincoln High School
    spike at 2:15 pm
    perform at 2:45 pm

    Skyline High School
    spike at 3:45 pm
    perform at 4:15 pm

    CLEAN HOME ROOMS 5:05 pm
    Awards 6:15 pm

  6. Skyline took first in regionals and advances to states; Pioneer is advancing to states as a "wild card." Lincoln did not advance.