Lincoln Academy’s 2024 cast and crew of the One Act play, “The Legend of Jim Cullen.” / Senior Mitchell Straus won an acting Award for his portrayal of Professor Bateman / Junior Olive Seigel as Rosellah Twist and sophomore Felix Cunningham as Jim Cullen.

The Lincoln Academy One Act play “The Legend of Jim Cullen” won the Regional One Act Festival on March 9, 2024. It is the 15th win in 16 years of competition for the LA theater program under the direction of Griff Braley.

The festival took place at Freeport High School the weekend of March 8-9, one of eight regional festivals around the state. Seven schools participated at Freeport, three in Class A and four in Class B. LA received the highest score of the festival, which qualifies them to move on to the State Class A Drama Festival.

“The Legend of Jim Cullen” is an original play written by LA theater director and drama teacher Griff Braley. It chronicles the story of the only person ever to be lynched in New England, a man named Jim Cullen who was killed in Aroostook County in 1873.

Maine’s Drama Festival is an annual competition that is overseen, like athletics, by the Maine Principals Association. One Act productions that enter the Festival are rated on acting and technical elements within a specific set of rules. Each play can be no longer than 40 minutes, and the cast and crew have five minutes to construct the entire set and five minutes to tear it down after the production. “Lighting and sound can be particularly challenging on the road,” said Braley. “Every theater is different, and one of the challenges is preparing the play in our small Poe Theater and then performing in a space two or three times its size. This impacts every element of the show and requires a great deal of imagination and flexibility from the students.”

In order to adapt the story for the stage, Lincoln Academy Theater Director Griff Braley led students through a “facilitated process in which students work in groups and as a cast to devise aspects of the play as they understand them. This starts with studying the text, then setting basic staging parameters, and exploring to find ‘what works,’” Braley explained. “Basically we know it when we feel it and it fits together. Then we run iterations of the work until it all runs seamlessly.”

Junior Sophia Scott composed original music, which includes guitar (played onstage by Scott), improvised violin (played by senior Kayla Cruz), and songs sung by the cast throughout the 40 minute play. Senior Annalise Garnett designed and operated lights for the production. Junior Calvin Percy ran stage management and set construction. Tech Director Ryan Kohnert supported students in the tech process.

In addition to winning the Regional Festival, LA’s play was awarded an Ensemble award. The cast won three awards for acting for senior Mitchell Straus, and sophomores Felix Cunningham and Trey Tibbetts. Sophia Scott won an award for her original score, and Annalise Garnett won for lighting design and operation.

The cast and crew will perform at the State One Act Festival in Camden Hills on March 23 at 7:30 pm. Photos from the One Act play the Legend of Jim Cullen can be found on the LA Flickr page.