Freeport senior is a young Renaissance Man

Conversations in a box
By DEIRDRE FULTON  |  March 19, 2008
INSIDEtji_oneact_KevinHenth
THE ART OF WINNING: Kevin Henthorn.

Last fall, Freeport high-schooler Kevin Henthorn’s The Art of Walking won the Film of the Year award in the Phoenix’s Maine Short Film Festival. Now, the same scruffy, laid-back dude is blowing up another art form — theater — with his one-act play, Conversations in a Box.

The production served as Freeport High School’s victorious entry into the Maine Principals’ Association One Act Drama Festival. It’s an “absurdist play,” Henthorn tells us, “about a boy who wakes up in a box,” and then meets several different characters as he tries to figure out why he’s there, and how to get out.

“When I read the script I was blown away,” faculty director Tim Ryan wrote in his program notes. “I shared the script with a couple of fellow teachers who were also in awe of the story that this student had written.”

So were the judges. Conversations in a Box won the regional competition at Falmouth High School on March 8, and will advance to the finals in Cape Elizabeth this weekend. Freeport and Morse High Schools are the only two schools (out of 78) that produce student-written plays for the festival (the rest use already-existing works). If Conversations in a Box wins the whole shebang, it’ll be the first time that a student-written play has done so.

So which medium does this jack of artistic trades prefer? Henthorn can’t say. Although the 17-year-old senior is hoping to go to film school next fall (he’s already been accepted into a few programs, and is still waiting to hear from a handful of others), he appreciates the fermentation time that the theater affords — longer rehearsal and performance periods allow him to work more with the actors, and to watch his play evolve.

The MPA’s festival experience provides for this type of evolution; after round one, the judges provide critiques that ensembles can apply for the finals. Henthorn and his cast have been tweaking some minor bits over the past couple of weeks, but they don’t have that much to improve — after the regional competition, one of the judges called Conversations “the best theater I’ve seen in a long time.”

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