Students direct annual play festival
Four student directors will showcase their skills during the 1-Act Play Festival on Saturday at Douglas High School for a chance to represent the school at the Northern Nevada Thespian Festival in March, a state and national theatre competition.
The Nevada Thespians is a chapter of the International Thespian Society, an honor society sponsored by the Education Theatre Association. This association is committed to the advancement of educational theatre and sponsors Thespian Festivals, conferences, theatre workshop, opportunities, and college auditions and scholarships for students.
“It really helps the students take their acting or directing and theatre career to the next level and it challenges them,” said Drama Department Head and Thespain Troupe Leader Amy Sandos.
The students must qualify at the regional level in order to represent DHS at the Nevada State Festival in Las Vegas.
Sandos said there would be 3-5 judges on Saturday scoring the students based on acting and musical performances, technical and design including costume, lighting, and sound design. Those who receive superior marks will move on to State.
“Our Thespian Troupe 990 continues to excel and has sent students to compete at the international level for the last 6 years,” said Sandos, “Last year, all our thespians at this level of competition earned superior ratings.”
She said students who receive superior ratings from the state festival will move on to the International Thespian Festival, which is a week-long event that immerses students in the performing arts and allows them to work with and learn from professional artists, Broadway performers and composers, and professional theatre educators.
“DHS has had two student-direct plays earn the top superior play and move on to the state-level of competition,” said Sandos. “This is a great honor for our school.”
This is the first time each of the students have directed a production.
“I encourage upper classmen, students who have been in drama before, to participate. In fact, I recommend that they’re upper just so the experience of drama and background knowledge is there,” said Sandos.
Two of the four did not fall under that criteria but were willing to take the risk and show that they were up for the challenge.
Sandos said that juniors Brittnei Rollins and Cheyenne Roy practically begged her to let them participate in the festival as directors.
“Brittnei and Cheyenne haven’t been in theatre that long but were persistent and showed that it was something they really wanted to do.”
Rollins said the experience of directing has been challenging, but it has shown her a different perspective of theatre and has added to her fondness for it.
“It’s different than I originally anticipated,” said Rollins. “There’s a lot of time and effort. You have to open your mind to different views and be ready to change something because you don’t always get it your way. It adds another layer to theatre and showed me just how much I love it.”
Rollins and Roy teamed up to direct “4 A.M.” Which is a series of connected scenes and monologues of what it is like to be awake when the rest of the world is asleep.
“Seeing as Brittnei and I acted in the One Acts last year, we knew being more involved in the theatre community is exactly what we wanted to do,” said Roy. “We had already acted and we wanted to see how we would do as directors.”
Roy said directing was no walk in the park and there were many disagreements with co-director Rollins and the cast.
“We disagreed with the cast and each other, but in the end it worked out,” she said. “We compromised and worked together to create this funny, interesting and, hopefully, inspiring play that sheds a little light on the things that aren’t talked about.”
Ann Keasling, director of “Every U.S. Election Ever!” said she enjoys directing because it’s different from acting and has a lot of responsibilities and allows for growth within the theatre.
“I like seeing my ideas realized,” said the junior. “It’s about taking control of technical aspects, taking control of your actors and seeing it all come together. These are my cast and play and it’s been an experience to see it come to life.”
“Every U.S.Election Ever!” is a comical recap of every Presidential election from George Washington to President-elect Donald Trump.
Senior Sidney Miller is excited to star and direct in her production, “Dying Light” which explores the bitter-sweet love of two young adults dealing with cancer and the horror of making a life and death decision.
“Everything about the chemistry of Tom and Jenny, despite their inevitably unfortunate circumstances, was beautiful to me,” said Miller.
The three plays will face off for a spot at the State Thespian Festival.
The students agreed that the festival is not about being judged nor do they view it as a competition.
“It’s an appreciation of our talents and what we are doing,” said Miller. “It’s a chance for us to show them what we’ve got.”