NHS Theatre Presents ‘A Night of One-Acts’

Want TO GO?

What: Noblesville High School’s Drama Club and Thespian Troupe 8118 present “A Night of One-Acts” featuring three one-act plays, “Stand Center Stage and Bark!” by Douglas Craven, “Impromptu” by Tad Mosel and “The Actor’s Nightmare” by Christopher Durang.

When: 7 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Doors open at 6:15 p.m., with the house to open at 6:30 p.m.

Where: Noblesville High School Auditorium, 18111 Cumberland Road, Noblesville.

How much: $10 at the door, $8 in advance, general admission at

What else: Backstage Notes, which can be sent to cast and crew, will be sold before each performance and during intermission for $2 each. Concessions will also be available during intermission. Cash only.

(Photo courtesy of Noblesville Schools)
Noblesville High School Drama Club students — Rylee Odle (from left) as Drama Teacher 2, Cate Hand as Drama Teacher 1, Sarah Rolinson (center) as Wendy, Dominic Jones as Drama Teacher 5, Josiah Smith as Drama Teacher 4 and Annie Libs as Drama Teacher 3 — rehearse for the NHS one-act play, “Stand Center Stage and Bark!” It’s one of three one-act plays during “A Night of One-Acts,” NHS’s spring play on stage Thursday through Saturday nights at NHS.

It’s the third time that Noblesville High School theater teacher Susan Nieten has directed “A Night of One-Acts.”

But each time, she changes it up with a variety of one-act plays.

“It’s been well over a decade since I’ve done “A Night of One-Acts” for the spring production,” she said.

But now, it’s time again.

“A Night of One-Acts” — featuring two comedies and one-thought-provoking play — will be on stage Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights at the NHS Auditorium. Tickets are still available.

Susan Nieten

Doing three one-act plays allows the spring play director to feature more actors on stage while offering a variety of plays.

“One of my goals is to put on a strong production that challenges the students both in the cast and in the crew,” said Nieten, who is the NHS Drama Club coach and director of the school’s Thespian Troupe 8118.

For the spring play, 37 students auditioned and presented a one- to two-minute comedic monologue, plus 48 students completed applications to be a part of the production crew. Of those, a total of about 50 students were selected for the cast and crew.

While theater is fun, it’s also a learning experience.

“For some students, this is their first time performing in our spring production,” Nieten said. “…They get to see how things run onstage and backstage.”

She said, “It’s much different performing on the stage in the auditorium than in the theater classroom.”

(Photo courtesy of Noblesville Schools)
Colin McCabe, as Ernest, and Lauren Rohn, as Winifred, rehearse for the one-act play, “Impromptu.” It’s one of three one-act plays during “A Night of One-Acts,” NHS’s spring play on stage Thursday through Saturday nights at NHS.

Thespians require more projection and bigger gestures and facials and much more on the big stage.

In NHS Theatre’s “A Night of One-Acts,” a couple of students are cast in two of the three one-act plays and have to develop different characters for each show they are in, Nieten said.

The takeaway?

“Above all, I hope that students walk away with more self-confidence, better communication skills and stronger problem-solving skills,” she said.

Nieten and NHS theater teacher Greg Richards, who has taught at NHS for 40 years, co-teach the theater tech and production class, which built the sets and set pieces for all three one-act shows.

Costumes came from the theater department’s stock and students brought in their own costumes. Nieten about the only items they bought were the Executioner’s costume and a few accessories.

“Another goal is to choose shows that the audience will enjoy,” said Nieten, who chose three very different one-act plays.

“Stand Center Stage and Bark!” is a fast-paced, comical look at the serious business of high school auditions, Nieten said. It’s the story of five very different students who audition for parts in their school’s production of Shakespeare’s “Othello.” Each student’s expectations and fears are reflected by changes in the audition panel of their drama teachers, who transform from hippies, to demons, to an alien hive-mind, to an interpretive dance troupe, she said.

The second one-act play, “Impromptu,” by Tad Mosel, revolves around four actors who sit on a darkened stage, awaiting the arrival of a stage manager who has called them together. Lacking his authoritative presence, they are merely characters in search of a play to become part of, for their own personalities seem unformed and shallow next to the full-blooded figures they are used to playing.

The third one-act play, “The Actor’s Nightmare,” by Christopher Durang, features George, who casually wanders on stage, and is informed that one of the actors, Eddie, has been in an auto accident, and he must replace him immediately. Apparently, no one is sure of what play is being performed, but George, costumed as Hamlet, seems to find himself in the middle of a scene from Noel Coward’s 1930 comedy, “Private Lives,” according to Nieten. As George fumbles through one missed cue after another, the other actors shift to Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” then to a Samuel Beckett play, and then a climactic scene from what might well be Robert Bolt’s 1960 play, “A Man for All Seasons,” by which time George has lost all sense of contact with his fellow performers.

Each one-act play is about 35 minutes.

(Photo courtesy of Noblesville Schools)
Noblesville High School Drama Club students Dominic Jones, as George Spelvin, and Lizzie Schultz, as Sarah Siddons, rehearse for the one-act play, “The Actor’s Nightmare.” It’s one of three one-act plays during “A Night of One-Acts,” NHS’s spring play on stage Thursday through Saturday nights at NHS.

“The audience will enjoy the stories that unfold in each of the one-acts,” Nieten said. “It will give them insight into different aspects of acting … trying to get out of your head during auditions, the balance actors must find between reality and illusion when playing a role and, of course, the nightmares that crop up the week or two before opening night.”

How does Nieten go about choosing the spring play each year?

“Many things go into choosing a spring show,” she said. “Over a four-year period, I try to vary the genres and type of shows produced so that students get experience with a variety of playwrights, genres and themes.”

For example, the past four years, she’s directed “The Crucible,” drama and historical fiction; “Clue,” comedic mystery (canceled on opening day in March 2020 due to the Covid pandemic); “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten,” ensemble show; and “A Night of One-Acts,” three different shows, two comedic and one thought-provoking.

Also going into her thought process is thinking about the talent that is available for the shows that she considers in her search for the perfect show each year, based on actor and crew talent and experience.

She thinks about the set. “What can we build and how much will it cost?”

She considers the experience of the technical theater class. “How many students are returning to that class with construction, painting, lighting and sound experience?”

She asks, “Can we costume it with what we have or what the students can bring in?” she said. “Or do we have to rent or buy costumes?”

Bottom line, Nieten said, “Overall cost does have a lot to do with it. The only money we get for our productions is from ticket sales from past shows, and donations.”


“Stand Center Stage and Bark!” — Sean Wood, as Sarah; Lauryn Kinzie, Girl 1; Addie McMillan, Girl 2; Bridget Dean, Janet; Sarah Rolinson, Wendy; Maddux Morrison, Martin; Colin McCabe, Jamie; Nick Sizelove, Zach; Cate Hand, Drama Teacher 1; Rylee Odle, Drama Teacher 2; Annie Libs, Drama Teacher 3; Josiah Smith, Drama Teacher 4; Dominic Jones, Drama Teacher 5.

“Impromptu” — Lauren Rohn, Winifred; Maddux Morrison, Tony; Colin McCabe, Ernest; Rachel Beeler, Lora.

“The Actor’s Nightmare” — Dominic Jones, George Spelvin; Roux Carney, Meg; Lizzie Schultz, Sarah Siddons; Andie Zelaya, Ellen Terry; Aidan Johnston, Henry Irving and Executioner.

– Contact Betsy Reason at