MONTICELLO — Performing in a COVID-related environment is becoming old hat for Monticello High School’s thespians. Starting with outdoor presentations last fall and continuing with masked performers for the spring musical, director Nicki Graham’s crew pretty much has it down.

That includes the cast of 28 who will present “The Bully Plays,” a series of one-act plays at 7 p.m. Oct. 8-9 in the high school auditorium.

Thespians will be masked, but Graham says that is no problem for the actors.

“They handled this task well last year in the musical and the spring play, so it was really no more of a challenge. The students have adapted, and I think we’re all just used to it now. We will be putting individual mics on the actors so the audience can hear them easily despite the masks,” Graham said.

The series of single acts is a format that also plays well into safety issues, with few players on stage at any one time.

As for the subject material — Graham advises spectators be at least 12 years of age — there is a wide range, from an emotionally heavy one featuring the grim reaper as a character, to a more comedic one complete with posing clowns.

“While these are hard-hitting topics, the playwrights handle them with care and ask us to look at the issues to consider what could have been done differently,” Graham said. “To keep the evening from being too heavy, the serious plays are interspersed with some that deal with the issue in a more comedic way.”

MHS senior Grace Stapf is participating in three of the seven acts, portraying a mom, a bully boss and one of the clowns.

She said the one where she plays an overbearing boss has given her an understanding on how bullying can pass through several generations.

“I’m this boss, and I’m yelling at one of my workers, and he yells at his son, who bullies someone at school, who bullies his sister. So it’s kind of this trail,” said Stapf, a four-year member of the high school thespian troupe.

She now also understands why some people react in unpredictable ways.

“I feel like some of these are easy to relate to, because we’ve all been put in those situations where you don’t mean to do it, but it just happens sometimes,” she said.

Stapf also likes the one-act format.

“I think one-acts are really fun because the smaller the cast is the more you get to know each other. You build those friendships with those you’re in the cast with.”

Audience members will also need to be masked since the productions are being held within the school. Stapf is looking forward to performing indoors.

“COVID has been so crazy, I’m just glad we’ve been able to put on productions, and this year we’re actually in our auditorium, so we have some upgrades,” Stapf said.

Graham encourages the public to attend and see the hard work put in by the student actors.

“I just hope people come out to support these actors. I have a lot of new faces this year, and they have been working hard. We’d love to have a large audience each night so the students can share their joy of being onstage.”

Tickets are available online at, or at the door.

The cast

Directors — Nicki Graham, Amy Malone

Student director — Alison Wiltgen

Stage manager — Jessica Conatser

Cast — Addi Barclay, Zoe Burris, Kyndal Cafin, Emmie German, Dallas Glauner, Leo Goebel, Sophie Happ, Jackson Heck, Lika Kay, Leah Killion, Mae Knittle, Rylee Kurth, Lucas Madera, Taylor McClary, Ken Merriman, Ryan Olsen, Tyler Olsen, Olivia Ray, Grace Stapf, Reee Stinson, Ellie Tanner, Alison Wiltgen, Lilly Bradley, Kalivine Ginger, Leo Goebel, Lauren Kraus, Laila Miller, Maya Nowak and Audrey Shore.

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