Gorham and Westbrook took first place in their respective regions at the Maine Drama Festival’s one-act-play competition over the weekend.

In Westbrook, the Sock n Buskin Drama Club performed “Bald Soprano,” beating out seven other schools in Kennebunk for top honors. Gorham students bested four other schools for their performance of “White Room of My Remembering. ”

The Westbrook High School cast of “Bald Soprano” from left, Ranya Adnan, Emelia Bailey, Evan Rone, Simon Webber, Sarah Winn and Ellie Backman. Contributed / Rick Solomon

Westbrook Drama Director Rick Solomon said he was proud of his cast for pulling off such a difficult play. Eugene Ionesco’s “The Bald Soprano,” he said, is an absurdist play from the 1950s with some complete nonsense lines and non sequiturs, making it harder to memorize.

“This particular play deals with the inability to communicate and the difficulty to communicate and the destruction of language,” Solomon said. “It was a very challenging script for the kids. They worked really hard, starting on it in December.”

Solomon, the drama director at the high school for the past 15 years, has led his students to first place finishes at Maine Drama Regional Festival six times. He will cherish this victory, he said, because it this is his last year as director before returning to full-time teaching for a year and then retiring. 

Westbrook this year won over Gray-New Gloucester, Marshwood, Massabesic, Noble, Scarborough and York high schools, and Traip Academy.


“We were really excited. It was a really fun show to do. It’s a sophisticated piece of theater and not a lot of people our age get to do that,” junior cast member Emelia Bailey said. “So we were nervous but excited to present that kind of theater. It went really well, we thought it was our best performance (that week), and we were really optimistic about it.”

Junior cast member Ellie Backman said she was “a little surprised” with the first place finish.

“Half of our cast, we had a cast of six, had never done theater before,” she said. “I thought they crushed it at the performances, especially with how challenging it was. On the final weeks of rehearsal, some of us were a little worried that it’d come together, but it did and then it was awesome.”

According to junior Sarah Linn, the choice of play likely aided in their win, given the difficulty.

“It was an excellent choice and part of why we won, and it was fantastic to be a part of,” Linn said. 

Other Westbrook cast members were Ranya Adnan, Evan Rone, Simon Webber and Sarah Winn.


Gorham actors’ “White Room of My Remembering,” a 1990s play by Jean Lenox Toddie with the theme of memory, earned them top honors at their regional festival, which Gorham hosted.

Gorham High School students rehearse “White Room of My Remembering.” From left are Julia Ordway, Annika Mocciola, Emma Smith and Kaylin Brown. Ben McCanna / Portland Press Herald

“This is my first one-act festival,” sophomore Emma Smith said. “It was honestly such a great experience meeting all of the new people with similar interests. I didn’t know anyone else at first, but people were so friendly and welcoming, and it felt like a safe space for everyone.”

The cast also included Julia Ordway, Annikka Mocciola, Hannah Reed, Kaylin Brown and Aera Hyson.

Smith was first unsure they would win, but her confidence grew as their play got rolling, she said.

“It was a great time because we all got to do things we wanted to learn. It was so fun,” she said.

Gorham beat out Bonny Eagle High School, Fryeburg Academy, Windham High School and Portland High for the award.

I try not to think very much in terms of winning and losing because we are talking about art,” Gorham Director Josie Tierney-Fife said. “So, what we really focus on is making the most beautiful piece we can that challenges the kids to grow as actors and theater technicians.”

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