C.R. students set to perform fall play

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Lead actors Izzy Cartwright (portrayed by junior Ellie Davis), right, stands with her twin brother Finn Cartwright (junior Andrew "Ham" Johnson) just before departing on her camping trip to Wells, Ore. (Photo submitted)

By Caroline Rosacker

Clayton Ridge student cast members and directors Jason and Nika Tipsword, and volunteers Julie and Frank Davis, and Shirley Edwards are set to perform the play The Search for Izzy Cartwright or, Escape from the Forest of Mind-Control Slime by Madison Mondeaux.

Performances will be Friday, Oct. 21, and  Saturday, Oct. 22, at 7 p.m., and Sunday, Oct. 23 at 2 p.m. in the Clayton Ridge Elementary, Garnavillo.

"I am extremely excited for the students to perform the fall play, The Search for Izzy Cartwright by Madison Mondeaux," says Jason. "This weird, funny play about brain-stealing aliens is one of the most brilliantly written new plays I have read in a long time. It’s also a challenging comedy script with simultaneous scenes, cascading dialogue, and some devastating one-liners."

Jason enjoys the flexibility the script offers. "One of things I like best is there are many hilarious smaller roles for students who are extremely busy," he explained. "This is a play that we were able to schedule around other activities to a large degree."

Madison Mondeaux

The play's writer, Madison Mondeaux, graduated cum laude from Knox College with a BA in Creative Writing in 2015. She currently lives in Boston, Mass., where she is pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing from Emerson College. 

Her newest production, and first play written specifically for young actors, The Search for Izzy Cartwright, or, Escape from the Forest of Mind-Control Slime!, premiered at the New School for the Arts and Academics in Tempe, Ariz., in May of 2021.

"I am grateful for the support we have received from Frank and Julie Davis, and Shirley Edwards, all of whom have kids in the cast," said Jason. "The cast is excited to showcase their talent for the community." 

The Tipswords 

Nika and Jason began directing middle school plays in the fall of 2015.  Nika became co-director of the high school musical in 2021 and will direct her third musical this spring. This is the Tipswords' first high school play at Clayton Ridge.

"Nika and I both have post-secondary education, and specialized training in theatre," noted Jason "Verna Lenth asked us if we would be interested in taking over her program when she planned to retire. Shane Wahls called and asked us to come in and talk to him about the program."  

Typically the cast and directors are in rehearsal  four to five nights a week for six to eight weeks. In addition there is time spent outside of rehearsal on production elements such as set, props and costumes. "Actors are also expected to learn their lines on their own time since rehearsal is for character and story work, not line learning," explained Jason. "Time is also spent reading candidate scripts, design and production conversations, casting, actor development ideas, and more." 

The Tipswords have had to improvise with set design. "Up to this point we haven't had much interest in set design from students," he told The Press. "We have tended to have fairly spartan sets because of this. I worked in a scene shop for several years that built sets for road show operas. I would love to add this as part of the extra-curricular learning we offer, along with other elements of theatrical production. Unfortunately we are limited by student availability, and technical theatre equipment. We have some student help on getting jobs done, but not much involvement in design or primary implementation."

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