'A beacon of hope'
When you ask the cast of the Detroit Lakes High School 2017 one-act play, Lois Lowry's "Gathering Blue," what the story is all about, there's no shortage of voices that clamor to respond.
"A dystopian society becomes aware," says Anna Hokanson, who brings to life the play's central character, Kira.
Giggles erupt from her fellow actors as they kid her about how melodramatic that response sounds.
"'Gathering Blue' is set in a world (author) Lois Lowry created in 'The Giver,'" says Sarah Kapphahn, who plays the role of Vandara
In this world, society is ruled by the Guardians, "a group of all powerful, seemingly benevolent beings," says Madi Hagen, who plays the Chief Guardian.
In reality, however, the Guardians are far from benevolent, she added: They rule through fear, keeping the people of the village submissive and meek by spreading rumors of violent "beasts" that live in the surrounding woods.
"What they put in (the villagers') minds is the fear that if they go into the woods they'll get killed," Kapphahn added. The central plot of the story is that Kira, who was born with a deformed leg, did not meet the same deadly fate as other weak and disabled people in their village, because she reportedly inherited a rare talent for embroidery from her mother.
As Kira takes on the task of learning her craft, in the hope that she will one day be able to repair the legendary "singer's robe," she begins to discover the Guardians' dark secrets.
One of them is the reason why there is no blue thread, or blue fabric, to be found anywhere in the village.
"That's one of the themes," says Natalie Eidenschink, who plays the sinister Guardian known as Jamison. "There is no blue... because blue symbolizes hope."
By the end of the play, Kira herself comes to symbolize that for the villagers.
"She becomes like a beacon to them... a beacon of hope," says Alex Swanson, who plays Matt, the young villager who befriends Kira and becomes her 'protector.'
"Gathering Blue" is directed by Nikki Caulfield, and is Detroit Lakes' entry into this year's Minnesota State High School League one-act play competition, which gets underway with subsections this Thursday, Jan. 26 in Fergus Falls.
After a little over a month of preparations, this past week's rehearsals were focused on making sure that the play did not run over the 35-minute time limit imposed by the state.
Mission accomplished: Thursday's rehearsal clocked in at 31 minutes, 51 seconds.
"That's good pacing," Caulfield told her cast when they took a break before running through some of the finer points of the production a second time.
Those who would like to see the results of the cast's labors are welcome to attend a public performance of "Gathering Blue," which is set to take place this Tuesday, Jan. 24 on the stage of the Historic Holmes Theatre, starting at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $5 for adults and $2 for students, and the performance time is approximately 35 minutes.
'Gathering Blue' Cast
Kira: Anna Hokanson
Thomas: Tristan Knopf
Jo: Eleanor Bierderman
Chief Guardian: Madi Hagen
Jamison: Natalie Eidenschink
Vandara: Sarah Kapphahn
Solora: Diana Heden
Dinah: Ellen Tieken
Asher: Zach Leeb
Mar/Singer: Britt Rorah
Elida: Mackenzie Liddell
Annabella: Gabriella Holm
Matt: Alex Swanson
Katerina: Kendra Jensen
Christopher: Isaiah McKenzie