A Regal Performance by Elkhorn South High School’s One Act Play
The Queens with Rowes King Henry VIII.
The Queens with Rowe’s King Henry VIII.

Elkhorn South’s 2023 One Act, which competed in Kearney, has royally portrayed the story of King Henry VIII and his six wives. The reality of the queens’ lives all ended in despair. “Divorced, beheaded, died. Divorced, beheaded, survived”. Through impeccable acting skills from the queens, the three King Henrys (different life stages acted out by junior Cayden Diers, junior Brennan Schafer, and senior Evan Rowe), and the townspeople, the historical events of sixteenth century British royalty are woefully illustrated in a simple high school play. The storytelling acted out on stage makes the audience forget that they are watching a high school play in the first place, as the anguish of the queens and the toxicity of the king is portrayed in a highly realistic manner.
It would be a difficult task for many high school students to successfully portray the corruption and selfishness of King Henry VIII, but Schafer achieved it perfectly. Although it was not easy, Schafer was able to wow the audience and gain learning experiences from the role at the same time.
“I played Henry VIII in the play, and I found it both fun and challenging to play the role, as he was notoriously not the nicest guy,” Schafer said. “We had about a month to prepare for the show, so it was definitely a scramble to get lines memorized. Through rehearsals, the bus ride, and the time spent at the school in Kearney, I was able to meet many people I haven’t talked to much in the past, both from South and other schools.”

Staples and Schafer as Jane Seymour is dying.

One character that Schafer acted brilliantly with was Kathryn Howard, played by Junior Lauren Mcgee. Mcgee took on the important role of the young queen by putting herself in her shoes and taking into consideration how her character would’ve acted in certain situations. She exquisitely depicted the viridity of her character and how it ultimately led to her untimely death.
“She [Kathryn Howard] was the youngest queen at 16 years old and married 50 year old Henry. She committed adultery and was sentenced to death. I tried really hard to portray her with innocence and a kind of ignorance because of her age. It was a bit hard to really feel like I was her in the moment because of the situation she was in, but once we did the show full through a few times, I could feel who she was and it helped a lot. I really liked having the chance to portray her because her story is really crazy.” Mcgee said.
Junior Kate Staples had a role that was especially difficult to portray, playing Jane Seymour, who was the third wife of Henry VIII and died during childbirth. It takes special talent for a high school student to accurately depict the physical and emotional pain of childbirth, but Staples did just that.
“It was a little difficult getting into character and pretending to give birth on stage because you had to get the emotions just right, but overall it was a lot of fun.” Staples said.

Staples during her childbirth scene.

Sophomore Marz Cooley had the opportunity to portray one of the most well-known and historically significant queens in history, Anne Boleyn. For her role, she had to act out the very emotional and meaningful scene of Boleyn before she got beheaded.

Diers as a young King Henry VIII with Cooley as Anne Boleyn.

“She [Anne Boleyn] is my favorite queen in history, so playing her and reenacting her story was amazing,” Cooley said. “I take a lot of time with character development; I read through my lines a lot. If it’s a character that was a real person or a character that lived through an important event, I might do a bit of research on the person or event.”

Cooley reenacting Boleyn’s beheading with Wren Robinson as the executioner.

Last but not least, senior Ava Fowler played the iconic role of Henry VIII’s last queen, who ended up outliving him. Fowler captured the audience’s full attention with her remarkable wit and charm.
“I played Katherine Parr, the sixth wife of Henry VIII. I loved playing her because I’ve never played a real person before. It was cool to have so much factual background on the person I was playing, and it was exciting to try to do her story justice,” Fowler said. “For this specific role, I did a lot of research on the historical context of my lines and the events that I would be portraying. There were a lot of deeper meanings to the things that I was saying and doing than I had realized. Being able to look at examples of how I should be acting in certain scenes made it easier than other roles I think.”
Behind the scenes of this production, the tech crew put tons of work into developing the set, being in charge of lights, props, and music, and creating the actors’ looks. While this job can certainly be exciting and rewarding, there is undoubtedly a lot of stress and hard work that comes along with it. Sophomore and captain of hair, makeup, and costumes, Tiara Sanders expresses her love-hate relationship with managing productions.
“I didn’t interact with the rest of tech much, mostly because I was so focused on getting everything done for HMC (hair, makeup, and costumes) and because I was always cooped up in the dressing rooms while they were usually in the workshop. The only tech person I really worked with was my assistant HMC captain, Keira Harwart, while we collaborated on ideas. Actors, on the other hand, are a bit of a different story. I feel like I was a kindergarten teacher with the amount of times I had to repeat directions or teach some people common knowledge. I also had to have a few not-so-nice conversations with some actors, but a lot of the actors are understanding, so they were pretty easy to work with.” Sanders said.
Through all the ups and downs of 2023’s One Act Production, many memories and special moments were made during the trip to Kearney that will forever hold a special place in the hearts of the cast and crew. The members of this production spent almost a whole weekend together, so there was a lot to unpack from their trip.
“Some of my favorite memories from the trip include the bus ride down there, which was very memorable due to the bus’s inefficiency in the way it stays warm during the winter (it’s frigid), as well as the night spent at a hotel in Kearney, because bunking with friends is always a fun experience. Overall, I’m relatively inexperienced in theater, as it’s only my second year, so I’m glad I was able to go to Kearney to learn from our great cast, including tech which it cannot be understated how much around the clock work they put in to make the show run smoothly, and from the queens, who are all incredibly talented actresses who I’ve learned so much from in the past few weeks.” Schafer said.
Cooley expands on the achievements of One Act at Kearney and how the whole crew left Kearney with new memories and a sense of euphoria and pride that came from all of their hard work.
“Queens placed 7th out of nine plays that competed. I won an outstanding actor award, along with a handful of people that were in the play. Even though we didn’t place super high, I’m really proud of the cast and tech members for putting on an amazing show.” Cooley said.

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