At the beginning of the month, 29 Jesuit drama students gathered with high school thespians from across the state to compete, learn, and perform at the Oregon State Thespian Festival in Salem.
Receiving qualifying scores during the regional competition, 18 students participated in the state competition in seven different categories. After performing their scene from “1776” for the judges, seniors Michael Cline and Joey Collins, juniors Paul Danowski and Matt Lazo and sophomore Andrew Decker were selected in the category of small group musical to perform in front of 1300 fellow thespians in the state showcase.
“I knew that this performance piece, with the right ensemble, would showcase,” Collins said. “Its age makes it fresh with the younger demographics and it showcases all five performers well.”
Though the size of the audience was daunting, the performers found comfort in the sense of community.
“Whatever you do, they’re gonna support it because they’re 1300 people who know that exact feeling,” Danowski said.
However, the weekend wasn’t all about competing. Sophomores Sophia Takla and Xavier Warner auditioned and earned spots in the all-state show, which included students from 27 different schools.
Students also had the opportunity to attend workshops given by teachers and performers with experience in the areas of acting, makeup, dance, and technical theater.
As well as learning from professionals, the participants were also able to learn from their peers by watching main stage productions and one act scenes from other drama departments. Jesuit students even performed scenes from the upcoming musical, Almost Maine.
“It was kind of a preview for us as to what it will be like to run the scenes with an audience,” senior Almost Maine cast member Ava Randall said.
The thespians even had the chance to show off their skills on the dance floor.
“[The dance] was a Harry Potter theme the first night, and a Boggart’s Ball the second night, so everybody had to dress as something they feared,” Drama teacher Elaine Kloser said.
The variety of exciting activities at the State Thespian Conference provides an unforgettable experience for teachers and students alike.
“It all combines to be a really fabulous event because there are so many different things that you can do,” Kloser said.
Ultimately, students find that the most important aspect of the festival are the experiences they gain.
“It’s cool because it’s much more than a competition,” Danowski said. “It’s a congregation of people who have a passion for theater, and you get to meet tons of awesome new people.”