Though the word can carry many negative connotations, “drama” proved to be a good thing for Enterprise High School theatre students this past weekend.
After months of hard work and rehearsals, the EHS Theatre Department traveled to Troy to compete in the Walter Trumbauer State Theatre Festival Nov. 29 -- Dec. 1, participating in 39 individual events and bringing home 33 superior scores and 14 first, second, or third place finishes once the competition was through. According to Theatre Arts instructor Veronica Stephenson, the record-breaking final results were everything she and her students had hoped for.
“I was very proud of how they performed,” Stephenson said. “As great as it that we got superior scores and had a record number of students place in a state competition, we were focused on leaving it all there--making sure that the best performances were in those rooms on that day so that no matter what the results were, we would come back to Enterprise knowing we did our best. It was absolutely what I hoped would happen.”
Preparation for the state competition began as far back as May for some students, Stephenson said, and a great deal of the work that went into each performance piece took place outside of the classroom. Students had to be self-motivated to succeed, and considering that most of EHS’s participants this year had not competed in the festival before, dedication and preparation were paramount.
“Just like any theatre audition, it is best if the students choose their own performance pieces although I help if they get stuck,” Stephenson said of the rehearsal process. “Once they have found some options, we have discussions and work together on offering feedback. We use some class time, but most of the work is done outside of class. This process includes hours of reading and rehearsing. With the first-year students I selected to bring, I helped more with choosing their pieces. All of their work was outside class time since they are not in the same class with my advanced students. Our state is divided into seven districts which compete in November then all who qualify meet at state a few weeks later; between district and state we evaluate the feedback from district judges and work on making our performances the best they can be.”
Stephenson added that working with each student one on one remains her favorite part of the experience.
“The students who really committed to working between district and state showed remarkable improvements,” Stephenson said. “My favorite part of preparing for this competition is the one-on-one time I get with these students after school where we can really work on movement and specific lines and words. It makes a huge difference in their confidence at state.”
Though there are still things to work on, including earlier selection deadlines and better preparation for novice competitors, Stephenson said that she is incredibly proud of her students’ accomplishments and hopes the community will recognize their hard work and talent.
“We never stop. Our program works year round, and all rehearsing is done outside of school hours,” Stephenson said. “We work with elementary schools any time we are asked, we are constantly somewhere in the community helping, especially if there is a costume involved. We've worked kids' parties, we are currently producing and directing The Lion King at Dauphin Junior High School, and our spring musicals are exceptional. Spending hundreds of hours preparing for each production is exhausting and undervalued by those who do not understand theatre. But in a world that is so busy, being able to take a couple of hours to sit quietly in a dark auditorium and let someone else's life be played out on stage is not only cathartic but necessary. As much as I love theatre and directing, what I most want others to know is that these students are learning to be better humans, learning life lessons that they will remember long after graduating, and learning that even with so little we can accomplish so much.”
The category participants and winners from EHS are listed as follows:
Elijah Powell/Gabe Powell -- Duet Pantomime -- 1st place
Fletcher Curtis/Kevino Lewis -- Duet Reader's Theatre Comedic
Faith Ryan -- Solo Acting Female Contemporary Dramatic
Emma Smedley -- Solo Acting Female Contemporary Dramatic
Annabelle Warner -- Solo Acting Female Contemporary Dramatic
Kaylin Cichocki -- Solo Acting Female Contemporary Comedic
Makayla Thomas -- Solo Acting Female Contemporary Comedic
Michael Twitty -- Solo Acting Male Contemporary Dramatic
Ethan Thompson -- Solo Acting Male Contemporary Comedic
Quann Green/Kevino Lewis -- Duet Acting Contemporary Dramatic -- 2nd place
Allison Moore/Carmen Hernandez -- Duet Acting Contemporary Dramatic -- 3rd place
Ruby Maghoney/Carmen Hernandez -- Duet Acting Contemporary Comedic -- 2nd place
Mackenzie Leger -- Solo Acting Classical Dramatic
Savannah Staley -- Solo Acting Classical Dramatic
Tori Dunkle -- Solo Acting Classical Comedic -- 3rd place
Cambria Thorley -- Solo Acting Classical Comedic -- 2nd place
Kennedy Caldwell/Jade Henderson/Meya Reid -- Group Acting
Lexi Altaffer -- Solo Musical Female Dramatic
Laura Davis -- Solo Musical Female Dramatic
Faith Echols -- Solo Musical Female Comedic
Nolan Bennett -- Solo Musical Male Dramatic
Elijah Gibson -- Solo Musical Male Dramatic
Nolan Bennett -- Solo Musical Male Comedic -- 2nd place
Simbiti Wright -- Solo Musical Male Comedic -- 3rd place
Elijah Powell -- Solo Musical Male Comedic
Kurt Kraft -- Solo Musical Male Comedic
Elijah Gibson/Ruby Maghoney -- Duet Musical Dramatic -- 1st place
Laura Davis/Ava Gothard -- Duet Musical Comedic
Savannah Staley -- Costume Design
Meya Reid -- Make Up Design