FREEPORT — Members of the Freeport High School One-Act Drama program have high hopes of winning a state championship this weekend – and making history in the process.

First, the school’s win earlier this month in the Maine Drama Festival’s Class B regional competition put it in position to bring home the state trophy for the first time. And second, a win would be the first in 89 years for a student-written play.

The Class B state championships will be held Friday and Saturday at Yarmouth High School, which will also have a team in the competition.

Freeport’s play, “Unhappily Ever After,” was written, designed and primarily directed by the students, with help from the school’s One-Act Drama director Timothy Ryan. The school’s tradition of using student-written plays started when Ryan assumed his position at the school a decade ago – not because of strong motivation on the students’ part, but because the One-Act Drama program didn’t have enough money to afford a syndicated play.

“I didn’t want to pay royalties on a script, because we were broke,” said Ryan. “When I took over, there was nothing in the budget.”

Those first few student-run productions established a tradition. “Now, I couldn’t get rid of it if I wanted to,” said Ryan.


When Ryan started managing the one-act program at the school, only nine students were participating. That number has since swelled to 55 students, with strong interest every year. This year, Ryan had to choose between a number of scripts submitted by students.

This year’s play was co-written by Molly Brown and Kelsey Grant. Grant, a 17-year-old senior, wrote the initial short story that would become “Unhappily Ever After.”

“It started out as an essay, a two-page essay in my creative writing class,” said Grant. “About a week and a half away from the one-act deadline, I was like, ‘I’m just going to submit it, see how it goes.’ And it got picked.”

Grant’s short story, a dark take on the classic Disney movie “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” takes place after the events of the film.

Grant said she combined her love of horror and Disney in writing the short story. It was her first time seeing something she wrote become theater.

“It was incredible,” said Grant. “I’ve always been in plays, but I’ve never gotten to feel the stress of having to write one. And it was stressful. But it was awesome seeing it. I’ve seen this like a million times, and it never gets old.”


Brown, who wrote the play for last year’s one-act competition, helped Grant turn her short story into a fully fleshed-out production.

“I had some script-writing experience. (Grant) wasn’t necessarily familiar with the process of writing a script,” said Brown, an 18-year-old senior. “So I came in and worked on the dialogue on it, off of her concept.”

Brown is excited for the future of the one-act program because of the large number of younger students in this year’s production.

“There’s a lot of freshmen this year,” she said. “And I remember my freshman year, I just had a really small role in the play, and we got to go to states that year and it was really incredibly fun.

“They’ll get to have that,” she said. “And I already have a bunch of kids thinking about writing a play for next year.”

The lead role of the Queen, played by 17-year-old junior Sarah Watts, is definitely no Disney princess. The opening scene features her brashly ordering the townsfolk around and ordering them to bow down to her.


“It’s different from every character that I’ve ever played,” said Watts. “She’s very evil.”

Watts has acted in other plays, and welcomed the chance to take on the lead role.

“I had a lot of fun with it,” she said. “I enjoyed yelling at people.”

The consensus among the students is that they’re definitely ready for their chance to perform at the state level.

Freeport will perform at 9 p.m. Friday, competing against 10 other schools. The event is open to the public, with each “session” (roughly three plays per session) costing $8 for adults and $5 for senior citizens and children.

“We’ve placed in the middle, usually,” said Ryan. “But this one, I think we’ve got a really good shot.”

Twitter: cchaseCJ

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