A Tough Act To Follow

Theater returns from Texas Thespian Festival


Photo by Amy Brown

Exploring the Gaylord in Grapevine, the theater class takes a break from their competitions at the Texas Thespian Festival. With contests in solo musicals, group scenes and many more, students like Jailen Readoux (12) were felt slightly overwhelmed. “When you’re at your own school you’re good and whatever,” Readoux said, “but when you go to a competition with like 7,000 kids and all these different schools, they’re all good at theater, so you feel really small in that moment.” Image provided by Katelyn Clarke

In wake of their recent competition, the theater class reflects on what they’ve learned from the Texas Thespian Festival and how they’ll prepare for future contests. The festival held numerous workshops allowing students like Rebecca Holland (12) to not only compete, but also improve.

“Thespian had a bunch of workshops there too, so we compete and then go to workshops and learn a bunch of things,” Holland said. “It’s really cool. I learned a lot about acting tips and leadership within theater.”

Holland was part of a group scene along with Kylie Maloney (12) and Jailen Readoux (12). The three actors performed a single scene from the play “A Streetcar Named Desire,” but there were many other options at the festival.

“They’re called IEs, but basically you can do a singing IE like a solo musical, a duet musical,” Maloney said. “You can do a solo scene like a monologue, you can do a group scene with three people [or] a duet scene with two people. So, basically, you pick your scene, you work on it in your own time and then you go and perform it for judges. They say if you advance to nationals. There’s three judges and they give you different scores.”

Four students have advanced to nationals which will be held this summer in Nebraska. Paige Parsley (12), Kacie Endsley (11), Caroline Cooper (12) and Rhegan Burkart (12) all individually competed with a solo musical.

“I competed in a solo musical from the musical ‘Finding Neverland,’” Burkart said. “It was very hard, it was a very challenging song. It was different than anything I had ever done and I also had a mixup with my room. I was supposed to be first in my room, but I ended up being last. I had to sit in a room for two hours without talking, so by the time I competed I was not warmed up, but it still worked out okay.”

There were many other complications that took place during the festival. Readoux’s group had a mishap with a prop in their scene.

“Our scene requires a table and on the list of instructions you can have up to one table and six chairs, but they didn’t tell us we have to bring our own chairs [and table],” Readoux said. “So we get up there and everyone was lugging their table and we’re just like, ‘Um, are we supposed to have our own table?’ We go up to one of the other teams and we’re like, ‘Can we maybe use your table after you use it?’ And they were like, ‘Um, I guess.’ If it wasn’t for that, we wouldn’t even have had a table in the first place.”

Later in the performance, the table proved to be a problem yet again.

“I was sitting at the table and Jailen hit the table because he gets angry while he’s playing Stanley [his character],” Holland said, “and the table wasn’t set solid yet. It kind of fell on my lap but it was fine.”

All of these mistakes and curveballs, however, provided many lessons to the theater students according to Burkart.

“I definitely learned to be prepared for anything because I warmed up with the idea that I was going to perform very soon, and then I ended up performing like two hours later,” Burkart said. “Next time I will be prepared for the fact that maybe things will change. I need to be prepared and warmed up for any situation.”

Burkart plans to take what she’s learned at the Texas Thespian Festival in order to improve her solo before nationals. Other students who participated in the hundreds of workshops, like Holland, will be taking what they’ve learned in order to prepare themselves for future performances and the upcoming UIL competition.

“I went to one workshop that was about being the character,” Holland said, “so instead of just acting like the character you are the character and you kind of have to come up with a background that the playwright doesn’t give you. I’m definitely going to be taking that and using that.”

Maloney claims that not only did the festival increase her ability as a performer, but it also helped increase the unity within the theater class.

“This is the second year I’ve been, but I connected with a lot more people from my theater class than I have before, a lot of the newer members,” Maloney said. “That was really nice. I learned that working with other people to do new things and try new things is really helpful. We did a bunch of dance workshops which were kind of embarrassing, but when you do it with other people it’s super fun.”

Ultimately, the Texas Thespian Festival provided many lessons and opportunities. The theater program has been strengthened and left more connected.

“It’s a really fun experience to go and do workshops and learn new things with people that maybe you wouldn’t have chosen to hang out with at school,” Burkart said. “You just get closer. People you wouldn’t typically go to at school may be the only person that you know in that one workshop, so it gives you an opportunity to bond in a way that you wouldn’t have.”