One-act cast is State-bound
I Never Saw Another Butterfly
earns program third straight trip
by RANDY OLSON
It’s three state trips in a row for the Sauk Centre theater department.
The cast and crew numbering 19 student thespians added to their Sub-Section 5A-20 championship a week prior when they rose to the top of a tough field of eight teams at Saturday’s Section 5A One-Act Play meet held in Sauk Centre.
Sauk Centre’s One-Act Play I Never Saw Another Butterfly overcame a strong challenge from West Central Area’s Rabbit, the one-act play that won the Sub-Section 5A-17 title.
“I thought Rabbit was excellent. We had to have everything go right for us in order to win the section,” said director and One-Act Play coach Margaret Kitterman.
I Never Saw Another Butterfly was written by Celeste Raspanti of St. Paul, whose special interest is the Holocaust. The play is one of three such scripts written about one of humanity’s darkest periods.
Raspanti enriches the plays with her firsthand information of visits to concentration camps, study of oral histories and friendships with survivors.
I Never Saw Another Butterfly is centered at Terezin, a former military garrison set up as a ghetto. From 1942 to 1945, over 15,000 Jewish children passed through there. It soon became a stopping-off place for hundreds of thousands on their way to the gas chambers of Auschwitz.
When Terezin was liberated in May 1945, only about one hundred children were alive to return to what was left of their lives, homes and families.
One surviving child, Raja Englanderova, returned to Prague after liberation. Her poems, diaries, letters, journals, drawings and pictures form the basis for Raspanti’s imaginative creation of the child’s story.
In the preface to the play’s book, it reads, “Raja lived through it all at Terezin, teaching the children when there was nothing to teach with, helping to give them hope when there was little reason for hope. This play is her story. It is history as much as any play can be history, showing the best and the worst of which the human heart is capable.”
Lily Satterlee played the role of Raja, while the remaining 15 cast members comprised roles as her family, a neighbor, teachers, a Rabbi and other children at Terezin.
Kitterman explained what set Sauk Centre’s One-Act performance apart while using a very difficult and heart-tugging script, “We had a fresh approach to the play. We added a little backdrop that gave background of Terezin. It’s part of an opening scene set in an art gallery, and then we bring in other characters.”
“It was a physically demanding play. Many characters had to freeze in position for lengthy amounts of time. Even something as small as an out-of-place eye movement could have thrown off our marks. They really worked as a team.”
In the early weeks of practices, chairs were used as the set that resembled portrait boxes in a museum.
“The commitment of the cast and crew was outstanding from the get go. Once we got into competition, they were solid. They showed real discipline to achieve what they did.”
Kitterman pointed out how demanding the practices were.
“Almost all our practices were at 6:45 a.m. on school days. We had 45 to 55 minutes to work each day, depending on the music schedules of cast or crew members,” she said.
Over three-quarters of the cast and crew are involved in band or choir, which has small ensemble and solo practices at 7:40 a.m. on some schools days.
“Having kids with that extra involvement in music didn’t hurt us at all. Their musical experience played a part in the One-Act play’s success. The staging, use of levels and the art work all fit together. Judges on Saturday noted the quality of our articulation and the nuts and bolts of putting on a play. Paying attention to details paid off,” Kitterman added.
Overall Sauk Centre has sent nine One-Act Play groups to the State festival, including four under Kitterman’s direction.
Sauk Centre’s I never saw another butterfly performs at 11:45 a.m. this Friday, Feb. 14 at the O’Shaughessy Auditorium, St. Catherine University in St. Paul during the 66th Class 1A One-Act Play festival.