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Torrington drama students to show their competition productions

November 16, 2018

TORRINGTON — The public is invited to attend the Torrington High School State Drama Showcase on Nov. 16-17 at the high school auditorium.

Christine Quillen, the drama teacher at THS, said the performances are an opportunity for the students to show their skills at home before competition starts.

“They’ve been rehearsing all this stuff since early September,” she said, “and preparing it for state drama in Rock Springs. When we go there, they’re judged and critiqued and it’s a contest, but here is our opportunity to perform for our friends and family.”

Quillen directs and coordinates the group, working with vocal director Erin Jespersen and set/tech director Aaron Bahmer to get each student into their events. At the beginning of the year, the students tried out for parts in the one-act, “...And Others.” Students who want to compete but didn’t make the one act, and some who did, are put into an acting or vocal event.

The Wyoming High School State Drama Festival, unlike the Nebraska play production contest, features more categories than simply the one-act play.

“We’ve let them totally choose on their own, and that process became so arduous for kids,” she said. “Now, we’ll give them three things and ask them which one they want to do, and that actually works out better for them, because we’re trying to keep in mind their strengths when we do that. A lot of times, kids will choose something that just isn’t workable.”

It also includes solo and ensemble performances, generally excerpts from plays or songs from musicals, and allows for competition in technical fields like publicity, costume design, sound design, make-up and film making. Quillen said the Wyoming competition focus on theater as a potential vocation for students, particularly in the technical events.

“They’re designed to help prepare kids for jobs in that area some day,” she said. “We make them do research and they have to do a lot of the technical aspects of many of those things.”

In tech events, the students prepare a binder filled with their research. In sound design, for example, the student has to pick a play and familiarize him- or herself with it to design sound for it.

“Are they going to use music or sound effects?” Quillen said. “They have to put all that down on paper. There are technical sketches they have to have. They have to show they understand how the sound runs through the system, from up on the board and down into the system.”

Judging in tech events usually boils down the student’s concept: “Why they are doing what they’re doing is the most important part that (the judges) look at,” she said.

The students also got help from Western Nebraska Community College: Robert Thompson and the WNCC Action Theatre Club visited the students on Nov. 15 to help the students in preparation for the state competition.

The drama showcase will start at 7 p.m. on Nov. 16-17, and will feature excerpts from various plays and musicals, as well as a presentation of the student-produced short film “Spectrophobia”. There will be an intermission before the showing of “...And Others”. While there is no graphic violence or language in the play, Quillen cautioned that it may not be appropriate for young children.

mark.gaschler@starherald.com

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