This year, the AHS Drama Guild has moved on from the preliminary round of the Massachusetts Educational Theatre Guild (METG) State Drama Festival, an annual competition where schools from around Massachusetts compete by performing short plays. AHS will be competing with the play True Places in the the Semi-Final Round of competition on Saturday, March 18th at Westford Academy.

True Places, AHS’s selection this year, has been a success for the cast and crew with festival judges. AHS seniors Julianna Lugg, Anna Yeo, and Dana Donovan won Excellence in Projection Design in the Preliminary Round on March 4th.

The comedic play by Walt Mcgough is not only about maps, but also about the challenging decisions that one has to face in life. Just like a map, there are paths that lead us to new places, and some paths that lead us back to where we started. Drama Guild director, Ms. Choquette, chose True Places to be Andover High’s Drama Fest show because of its witty and honest storyline and characters.

“I love this play because I fell in love with Mcgough’s writing,” Choquette said. “He is poetic with his places, imagery, and his dialogue and chooses introspective and poignant moments, which are whimsical, absurd, and humorous.”

The play is about a girl named Rose, who, when her world is turned upside down, searches for the place that will make it all better. Katie Wolfendale, a junior who plays Rose, said she relates to her character because she believes that she is continuing to find out more about herself.

One of the 14 locations for this year’s METG festival preliminary competition was held on March 4th in the Collins Center of Performing Arts. Andover’s Drama Guild competed with other high schools including Central Catholic, Danvers, Essex Technical, North Andover, and Melrose. The cast and crew were ecstatic to hear that they had advanced to the Semi-Final Round, especially considering that the group only spent about a month rehearsing before the first competition.

With only eight cast members in the play, the dynamics and chemistry between the actors definitely benefited when it came down to the performance. Wolfendale said, “We are a family. We laugh with each other, talk with each other, and deal with the problems as a group, not just by ourselves.”

With such a close knit and devoted group of students participating in the Drama Guild, Choquette took great care when selecting True Places. “When choosing the play for the year, I always pick something unique and challenging for the students who are committed to Drama Guild,” Choquette said. “I think of it as AP theatre because most of the students are involved in the play and show choir, so they have to be capable of managing their time and commitments.”

One of the group’s biggest hurdles for the competition is keeping the play under 40 minutes out of the risk of being disqualified for exceeding the time limit. Overall, this year’s process of preparing for the festival has been smoother compared to last year’s festival.

Choquette said, “Every year there are good actors and crew, but last year was challenging because we were mourning the loss of another student and two parents from the Drama Guild community. Our actors spent their week before prelims going to funeral homes, which took away their focus, but that is the way life unfolds sometimes.”

One of the assistant directors and projection designers, Lugg spoke about how her experience in Drama Guild has been so far. “I love being in Drama Guild in any way possible,” said Lugg. “Even now I absolutely love every part of the show process, and this is my 4th festival! I think it is very pertinent to share the message of the play [with] the audience, which is that there are moments in our lives where we make monumental decisions, and it can be the difference from falling off the ‘axis’ or making a big change to your life.”

By Katie Nam