Cloquet community theater headed to national festival

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The cast of “Wiley and the Hairy Man”

One of the great aspirations of any community theater is to take a show to AACTFest, the bi-annual national American Association of Community Theatre Festival.

For County Seat Theater in Cloquet, Minnesota, that dream just became a reality.

County Seat’s show “Wiley and the Hairy Man,” just won top honors at the Region 5 festival, which pits companies from Minnesota, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and South Dakota against one another. Company member Kirk Davis won the award for Best Actor, and the group as a whole took home the award for Best Ensemble Performance.

This after taking home the Minnesota statewide competition in Fergus Falls in late March.

Now the company will head to Rochester, NY in late June for the final round.

According to the Pine Journal, “Wiley and the Hairy Man” uses lyric poetry and mime to tell a story drawn from an Alabama folk tale:

“Wiley and the Hairy Man” tells the tale of how the Hairy Man wants to make young Wiley his next victim and how Wiley and his Mammy outsmart the Hairy Man. Although these three are the only named characters, in this play the chorus members ­- which morph from trees to creatures to dogs like they’re made of primeval ooze – are on the stage every second, dancing, standing as trees hung with moss, they even provide much of the ambient sounds for the production. The actors become the woods, the cabin, and all the props.

According to Technical Director Frank Milder, since 1973 only three other Minnesota community theaters have advanced to the National festival: Chameleon Theatre Circle of Apple Valley in 1999, Theatre in the Round Players of Minneapolis in 1997 and 1973 and Citystock Theatre Company of North Minneapolis in 1989.

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