WYNOT — This one-act play season couldn’t have been more challenging for any of the schools involved.
Wynot coach Heather Heimes would second that motion.
Despite the challenges, Wynot was still able to qualify for this week’s State One Act Play competition.
The state finals are set for Wednesday at the Johnny Carson Theater in Norfolk and Wynot will be more than ready after all the challenges they have faced.
“This was one of the best and toughest seasons I have ever coached,” Heimes said. “It was the best because I have three of my kids involved,” she said.
Her daughter, Zoey Wieseler assisted her this year, after guiding the Crofton One Act team last year. Two of her other kids, Trystan and Izzy, have roles in this year’s play.
It was the toughest because of the challenges posed the
“It was tough on the kids to work so hard to perform for limited crowds and not able to feedback from family right after a play,” she said.
Heimes was excited to see how her cast responded to the challenges they were presented.
“It’s also one of the best because even though we faced some tough challenges with masks, limited audiences, riding two hours to districts in full masks, costumes and makeup we overcame it to get to state,” she said. “I’m not going to jinx myself or the kids stating how I think they’ll do. I’ll just say the kids performed well enough to be one point away from a complete perfect score at districts.”
The Wynot cast and crew involves the majority of the students at Wynot High School this year with 44 year kids in the cast and crew.
“They can accomplish anything if they put forth the effort,” Heimes said.
Competing at State will mean some changes to their set, Heimes said.
“We’ve got a couple of things we want to adjust before state,” Heimes said. “The Johnny Carson theater stage is one level and we have two levels between worlds. We have to redesign our layout to be flat and no use of a curtain. That means we have to practice with everything laid out the length of the gym floor and redo our music to allow more time for getting from one location to another.”
This year’s production has been quite a family affair for Heimes.
“I have a daughter who is my assistant coach, my dad drives our bus and my son-in-law drives a semi with our set to the plays,” Heimes said. “My husband supports us at home helping out with suppers and cheering us on. Even though he’s not in the spotlight we couldn’t do what we do without him. It’s all about family.
“When we got back from districts, most of our families couldn’t make it, but downtown was full, cheering us on when we got back in to town. The kids got the recognition they deserve. It was such a great moment.”
So just how challenging has the year been?
“We practice with masks on, but perform without them,” Heimes said. “While our school is 100 percent masks, the play is performed in vignettes (brief episodes with limited characters until the very end.) So, the students are limited with the amount of time they perform without masks or with a large group of people. “The monkeys masks are pinned on with the hair, so they are stuck in them for quite a while, which is tough. We got a semi this year donated by Jones Trucking to bring our set to shows. We are only allowed to arrive at competitions an hour early so taking apart and putting sets together isn’t feasible, and our set is very large.”
Then of course, the act itself is a challenge more than ever.
“Performing a comedy is very hard in front of a small audience,” Heimes said. “When we got to districts, our audience size was about a quarter of what it normally is, so judging comedic timing was tough. You get a lot of energy from an audience and not having the positive feedback right after a performance is tough.”
The opportunity to compete at the D-1 level for state supremacy is definitely a rare one. Heimes, who graduated from Wynot in the 1990s, said she doesn’t remember ever competing in D-1 before.
“I might be wrong, but with that said we are the smallest school in D-1. It was so big for us. On top of which, when we performed at conference and districts our cast had the most outstanding performance awards of the schools who competed.”
Despite going up against bigger schools, the students had no reservations, she said.
“We compete at a high level at everything we do: academically, sports and music. This resonates in other areas. The kids put forth so much effort in this production,” she said.
District Outstanding Performers were Emersyn Sudbeck, Trystan Heimes, Peyton Wieseler, Anthony Haberman, April Folkers, Jack Kuchta, Lauren Haberman and Colin Wieseler.
“They go to school from 7:15 a.m. to 4 p.m., practice basketball until 8 p.m., and then practice one act sometimes until as late as 9:30 p.m.,” Heimes said. “This buy-in is not accepted in other schools. It wouldn’t happen if the parents didn’t support our school the way they do. That positive attitude is what our superintendent would call, ‘The Wynot Way.’ It makes our kids resilient after they graduate.”
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