April 2013 Newsletter Behind the Scenes


Meet Katie Carlson

ERHS teacher, speech guru, one-act director, and super-mom, Katie Carlson has been doing quadruple duty for a while now.  She’s taking a breather from the one-act next year, but before making her getaway, she graciously agreed to an interview.  To hear about the most gratifyingly absurd student audition she’s ever witnessed, and to discover the single item Ms. Carlson couldn’t do without in the event of a Zombie Apocalypse, read on:

Q1.  Regarding your tenure directing the one-act, select and briefly elaborate on TWO of the following talking points:  High Point, Low Point, Boiling Point, Freezing Point, Turning Point, Exclamation Point, Vanishing Point, and Point of No Return.

Point of No Return: Not being able to bring our set for Dracula due to the size of the trailer was pretty maddening. We knew that “the show must go on!” but much of our blocking relied on the large set piece. To much surprise, the kids rose to the occasion. While I was melting down in the front of the bus, the kids were problem-solving in the back of the bus. By the time we reached the competition, the show had been re-blocked and the judges didn’t even notice.

High Point: This may not be a specific memory/talking point, but I love not only getting to see our kids compete and share their work with other schools but seeing them take pride in their work and in our program. When we step onto the stage, the actors and technicians are working in tandem on something they are proud of and, more importantly, something that has challenged them and spurred on personal growth.

Q2.  In your role as one-act director, what’s the strangest/funniest (pick one) thing you’ve seen? 

I will NEVER forget the odd moments from each year’s auditions. One of the most memorable was during auditions for Sideways Stories – the students were asked to create a scene from an elementary school but were asked to do so utilizing improvisation. For some odd reason, Ryan Richardson (a 9th grader at the time) created the wildest lunch lady I had ever seen. The entire theatre was in stitches! This moment sticks out to me because it is a great example of students taking risks, being creative, and committing to something no matter how absurd.

Q3.  You are taking a well-earned break from directing the one-act.  What one piece of advice would you give your successor?

As much as this is a competition, winning is not the aim. In my experiences, I quickly learned that it is easy to get caught up in the heat of the competition. Educational theatre is about learning and growing and as long as that never ceases, we will always be winners.

Q4.  Factoring out fatigue, how excited are you for Lincoln, and what are your hopes for the trip?

We went into the MN chapter festival with the expectation to perform and have fun doing it, so I have a similar aim for this trip. Due to summer conflicts and the expense of the trip, the cast and crew will not be whole so I know this will be a different experience, but I am excited for the challenge and opportunities presented and I know that our kids will present themselves with their usual class. The kids have also really expressed interest in the nightly dance parties – I can’t wait to see them make friends with students from other schools/states and to see them enjoy all the facets this festival has to offer.

Q5.  The unthinkable has happened and a Zombie Apocalypse is upon us.  You must evacuate immediately and travel to a secure zone where your entire family and all pets safely await your arrival. You are allowed to take with you just one non-essential item.  Keeping in mind the power grid and satellite communications are probably down, what item would you choose?

Hmmmmm…I would probably bring a good book or play to keep my mind preoccupied but it would have to be one that I could read over and over again without going nuts…maybe rereading The Hunger Games could teach me how to survive such an apocalypse?  Oh, heck with it.  I would bring ChapStick.

Thank you, Ms. Carlson.  The Loft Stage will miss you dearly next year.  Oh, and if there really IS a Zombie Apocalypse and you happen to see Hilarie Cariaga nearby, shuffling all slow and undead-like, you might want to steer clear.  I’m just sayin.’