|Thespians share acting honors spotlight
THE MID-COUNTY MEMO
On Saturday Feb. 2, hundreds of aspiring thespians convened at Parkrose High School Community Center for the Northeast Regional Acting Competition. Students from high schools east of I-5 and north of the 45th parallel were invited to audition their thespian skills while aspiring to qualify for the State Conference in Medford this April. Though the judges honored the top 20 percent highest-scoring contestants as regional finalists at the end of the night, only the top 10 percent of participants earned a shot at the state showcase this spring.
Beginning early in the morning and culminating with an evening awards ceremony, both novices and experienced thespians brandished their acting skills in up to three categories at five-minute intervals per performance. Categories, separated by experience, also fell into subcategories of solo, duo and group performances in the disciplines of drama, comedy, pantomime and musical.
To spotlight the acting from other theatrical effects, the stage was stripped of set and equipped with only a few chairs and a card table. With costumes and makeup prohibited, and only integral props permitted, students relied on their charisma to flesh out characters.
Each non-musical category circled through three rounds of competition (two rounds for musical pieces), with a new judge each round. The judges, experienced thespians themselves, must possess a firm understanding of acting theory and have some familiarity with high school theater in order to earn their role. This year, 29 of the 32 judges also attended the Oregon Thespians annual judges training workshop, honing their critical faculties to the specifics of the high school stage and this competition in particular. Their accurate expectations ensured students received the most comprehensive feedback. In addition to providing judges training, Oregon Thespians also improved the quality of this years event by supplying new computer software for the final tally. Replacing the once time-consuming and manual math equation, the new software cut the time in half.
The event as a whole established an intimidation-free zone for the teens to shine. The competition rounds took place behind closed doors in order to both minimize the home school advantage and prevent complications involving the public display of hundreds of snippets of material under copyright. At roughly six in the evening, the theater doors opened to admit family and friends to the awards ceremony.
Delegates from Mid-county schools qualified in the following categories:
Solo Acting Experienced: Centennial and Parkrose Derek Herman performing pieces from Laramie Project and Talk Radio; Duo Dramatic Novice: Reynolds; Duo Dramatic Experienced: Parkrose Jacquelle Davis and Derek Herman performing a scene from Album; Duo Comic Experienced: Centennial and Reynolds Ken Yoshikawa and Whitney Crittenden performing a scene from Neon Mirage; Solo Musical: Reynolds Emily Hinton performing Climbing Uphill from The Last Five Years and Stephanie Woods performing Im the Greatest Star from Funny Girl and Centennial; Duo Musical: Centennial and Group Musical: Centennial.
Duo Musical: Tessa Brady and Adam Johnson, performing Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better from Annie Get Your Gun.
Group Musical: Craig Irby, Ken Yoshikawa, Kevin Brady, Tyler Woods, Emily Hinton, Stephanie Woods, Whitney Crittenden, Bethany Hively, Donna Paris, Lindsay Qualls, Amy Allenbrand and Chelsea Raxter, performing Hard Work from the Broadway Musical Fame.
The Centennial actors collected the most honors in Mid-county. Coach Kellie McCarty praised the efforts of her competitors: I am extremely proud of the accomplishments of these young adults. They have worked so hard to get to this point, and its nice to see their hard work has paid off.
These students now face the challenge of recreating their respective winning performances at the state competition.
Simultaneously referred to as both a competition and a conference, last Februarys thespian event shared characteristics of both in that students learned from peers in a conference of like minds, while the competition aspect raised incentives to elicit their best.
Parkrose drama coach Ms. Zena remarked on the camaraderie evident among participants: I have to say one of the really cool things about theater competition versus any other kind of competition is instead of having kids fighting at lunch, they had a dance-off, 400 kids in the cafeteria dancing. It was awesome.
Also on exhibit, though not to upstage the students, was the theater itself. Commenting on the conference as a whole, Zena said, It was really exciting for Parkrose to be able to host it. Here we have this phenomenal building and absolutely amazing theater and it was just a treat for us to be able to share it with other kids who havent been out to this part of town. It was pretty neat to show that the east side of Portland has some great facilities too.
The Memo congratulates all qualifying Mid-county thespians and hopes they break a leg at the state finals.
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