Theatre students travel to state festival

Bettendorf theatre students attended the Iowa State Thespian Festival at the University of Northern Iowa on Nov. 11-12. At the festival, students had the opportunity to watch Mainstage productions from other high schools, compete in individual and team events, meet Thespians from other schools, and participate in workshops to grow as an actor or techie.

They arrived in Cedar Falls on Friday morning. During the first day, the group watched two Mainstage productions and watched or competed in Individual Events.

The mainstage productions were “[title of show]” from Dubuque Wahlert in the morning and “The 39 Steps” from Cedar Rapids Jefferson in the evening.

“[title of show] was a quirky, upbeat, small-cast show that had so much energy and was so much fun to watch,” Molly Seybert said.

Four studio productions were also presented during the day by Iowa City High, Davenport North, Davenport Central, and South Tama.

Seybert and Alex Packard placed first in the duet musical theatre category and qualified for the International Thespian Festival this summer. Seybert, Grant Mougin, Laurel Braaten, Taylor Gravert, Jack Obert, and Tyler Wilson placed second in the group musical theatre category and also qualified for Internationals. Lastly, Olivia Gasper qualified for Internationals in solo musical theatre.

“It was fun because it was a good group of people, and we worked really hard. It was cool to see all our hard work pay off and have people from other schools compliment us throughout the weekend,” Braaten said.

“I performed a solo musical theatre piece from Phantom of the Opera that I’ve performed other times, but using it as an IE really pushed me to act it fully and embody the character of Christine,” Sophia Pike said.

The second day of Festival was another exciting one with two more Mainstage shows, watching the Individual Events showcase, attending workshops, and introducing the new State Thespian Officers.

The mainstage productions on the second day included “Twelfth Night” from Grinnell High School in the morning and “Sweeney Todd” from Pleasant Valley High School in the afternoon.

“My favorite show from the festival was ‘Sweeney Todd.’ The cast is so talented in both acting and singing. The technicians, hair team, and makeup team did a spectacular job as well,” Holly Harrington said.

The Individual Events Showcase allowed students who were not able to see events view the winners from each category. Seybert and Packard performed their duet during the showcase.

“Performing in the showcase has been a huge goal of mine since freshman year, so being to perform in front of all the students felt so incredible,” Seybert said.

In the afternoon, the students attended workshops focusing on acting, improvisation, musical theatre, and more.

“I went to a session on juggling and stage combat. I liked learning how to throw a fake punch,” Shoaib Farooqui said.

After the final show, the new State Thespian Officers were announced. Ali Girsch, who was also an STO last year, is continuing her run as an officer for the next year. STOs represent the state of Iowa as leaders at the State Festival and International Thespian Festival. They communicate with thespians on social media, conduct leadership days, organize and plan the State Festival, and promote a love of theatre.

Overall, the Festival was a successful weekend for all in attendance.

“I would recommend going to others because it’s a lot of fun and you don’t have to have extensive theatre knowledge to enjoy the festival and appreciate the shows,” Farooqui said.


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