Lisbon High School Drama Club rehearses scenes from “The White Snake” for its one act play that won the club the Class B championship at the Maine Drama Festival competition at Ellsworth High School March 23. (LHS Drama Club photo)

LISBON — It is an ancient Chinese legend, the story of a snake spirit that transforms herself into a beautiful woman so that she may experience the human world. It also helped Lisbon High School’s drama club take home a Class B state championship at the Maine Drama Festival and the chance to perform at a regional competition next month.

Members of the Lisbon High School Drama Club are performing scenes from Mary Zimmerman’s “The White Snake” in a 35-minute one-act play. The club’s 30 students traveled to the regional drama competition at Thornton Academy in early March. They moved on to the state competition at Ellsworth High School last weekend where they were up against eight other schools but again left the Class B state champion. Now they are preparing to attend the New England Drama Festival in Rhode Island during April vacation.

Jen Fox, Lisbon’s performing arts teacher, said student Jenny Dong asked last year to perform a Chinese folktale for the one act. Dong was born in China but moved to the U.S. in her youth. 

“It was important to (Dong) to celebrate her culture,” Fox said.

It’s been an educational and enriching experience for the other drama club members, “and it’s such a beautiful story and timely story,” Fox said. “Even though it’s a thousand years old, it’s so current.”

As a folktale, there’s a moral to the story.

“The moral, I would say, is that you can be loved for the person you truly are even if there’s a piece of yourself you need to hide; that you’re worthy of being loved,” Fox said.

While not a musical, the narrator sings part of the narration. The actress with that part invented the tune she sings, Fox said, based on Chinese folk music. Another student accompanies her on oboe. There is also live drumming and various percussion. Two students choreographed the dance portion of the show and another designed and constructed several puppets.

Telling this tale meant the creation of 37 costumes from the Song Dynasty, music selection, building sets and props and hours of rehearsals before taking their act on the road.

“We also made our own rain sticks which are pretty prominent in the show,” Fox said. “We don’t really have a budget, so we have to be very creative in the way that we build and make things.”

That means buying fabric at Marden’s surplus store and bringing new life to curtains and tablecloths from Goodwill.

Lisbon High School Drama Club (LHS Drama Club photo)

Lisbon’s drama club has participated in the Maine Drama Festival for a decade now.

Her students are excited to be moving on to the New England venue, a showcase of New England’s state winners. While the performance won’t be judged at that event, Fox is still pushing the club to give their best performance. 

Fox estimates the Lisbon High School Drama Club needs to raise between $5,000 and $6,000 to travel to Cranston, Rhode Island for the New England Drama Festival April 15-17. The drama club will be putting on two evening performances of their act at the high school April 5 (times to be announced). Anyone who wants to donate toward the trip can call the high school or email Fox at [email protected].

Lisbon High School Drama Club students received the following awards March 23 at the Maine Drama Festival competition:

  • State Festival All Cast Awards were awarded to Emily Chase, Kierra Bouchard, Cameron Goslin and Austin Lachapelle.  
  • Special Judges Commendations were awarded to Kierra Bouchard for Puppet Design and Construction, Emily Chase and Leigha Walls for Choreography, Geoffrey Shambarger, Ben Duquette and Aliah French for Excellence in Narration, Xin Yi Jenny Dong for Costume Design/Dramaturgy, and Chris Roupe, Liz Currie and Hunter McKellick for Live Instrumentation.

[email protected]

Comments are not available on this story.