Preview: Theater students to present One-Acts

Kasmira Lada, Reporter

Palo Alto High School students will continue the annual tradition of One-Acts, a collection of short student-led plays, Thursday through Saturday nights at the Performing Arts Center. 

Sophomore Misha Beggs and senior Sophia Wong review their scripts for their Palo Alto High School’s One-Act. Junior Eloise Dumas is also acting in another One-Act, called the “Y-Factor.” “I’m acting in the Y-Factor, which is a sproof of various singing competition shows, except all the contestants are really bad,” Dumas said. (Photo: Kristine Lin)

The One-Acts are an annual event comprised of small student-directed performances. According to theater director Sarah Thermond, One-Acts are usually around five to six miniature plays that are each 10-15 minutes long and revolve around a single topic. 

Among the One-Act performances are the “Y-Factor,” a mixture of various singing competition shows, “Escape Room,” about a group of actors that gets trapped within a theater, and “Eviction Notice,” which involves two sisters trying to set up their friend with someone, in order for him to move out so he moves out of the apartment.

Paly senior Gavin Thomas, the director of “Escape Room,” said his One-Act is a fun and light-hearted play. 

“The performance breaks down the barrier between show and audience and is a lot of fun to watch,” Thomas said. “We have multiple One-Acts to supply props, sets and costumes for, so it’s a lot of work in a very short time frame.”

Eloise Dumas, a junior who is a director in One-Acts, said the smaller plays are more energetic than regular performances. 

“I like them [One-Acts] because the rehearsal process is less than a month, so it really feels like you can give it your all for that month without getting burnt out, kind of like a sprint rather than a marathon,” Dumas said.

Thomas said that One-Acts can be an easier way for students newly interested in theater to participate.

“The smaller shows allow people newer to the program to really break into Paly Theatre with speaking roles,” Thomas said. “It’s a great low-stakes way for new people to get involved in the program.”

According to Thermond, One-Acts are a good way for students to expand their skills beyond acting. 

“We have a few reasons for loving this tradition,” Thermond said. “The first is that our mainstage shows are normally fairly well-known scripts that staff members direct, so One-Acts gives an opportunity for theater students to try out two jobs they don’t normally have: playwriting and directing.”

Dumas said One-Acts involves a lot of hard work, which Dumas said is because it is student-run.

“Our mainstage productions are directed by teachers, but since these are student directed you have to plan everything like rehearsal schedules yourself,” Dumas said. “If your actors don’t take it seriously, which isn’t something that happens often, it’s a lot harder to wrangle them.”

According to Dumas, One-Acts have come with some challenges, especially with many students missing class due to Advanced Placement testing and other activities. 

“Because the rehearsal process has been so short and Paly kids are super busy, I don’t think any One-Act has had more than two rehearsals with their full cast,” Dumas said. “I think we’re working around this by just trying to squeeze in practice whenever we can and all being a bit more lenient.”

According to Dumas, One-Acts provide students a great occasion to improve their acting skills, interpersonal skills, and meet new people.

“The longer I’ve done theater, the better roles I’ve gotten, both in acting and tech, which is super rewarding,” Dumas said. “I love the people, because theater really requires a certain level of interpersonal skills, and it’s super refreshing to be immersed in such a kind, respectful group.”

For further information on the performances, visit