Drama teacher Todd Scheaffer enrolls his Thespian students in the Missouri State Thespian Conference every year, which took place this month from Jan. 7- 10.
The theme of this year’s conference was “Time to Branch Out: Going to New Heights,” and a total of 24 students attended. Students arrived at the high school at 4 a.m. to ride on a bus along with their sister troupe from Lindbergh High School, missing three days of school for the trip.
Schaefer and Hixson drama teacher Eric Conners took the students to stay in the Downtown Marriot Hotel and KC Convention Center in Kansas City. Three to four students stayed in every room; they used a Skywalk to get from one tower of the Marriot to another and an underground tunnel to commute between the hotel and convention center.
Thespians participated in page-to-stage auditions, one-acts, duets, monologues, scholarship interviews, meals with other high school thespians, tech challenges, the Improv Olympix, a dance and the final IE showcase. They attended several workshops every day, which explored acting, make-up, auditioning, form, lighting, set design, improv, Shakespeare, costumes, and much more. Students also watched plays The Sound of Music and Tarzan on Thursday and Friday nights.
“We were honored with lots of recognition for the work the kids put in and we also received top honors in several categories within our troupe,” Scheaffer said.
The WGHS Tech Team (including sophomores Jacob Noce, Alex White and Maddy Toskin, and Team Captain junior Jonah Schnell) won Best Overall Score, which qualified them to compete again at Nationals.
“I really enjoyed tech team. We won this year, which was pretty awesome; there were six events and we all placed near the top,” Schnell said. “It was a lot of work. Some of the categories were hard to prepare for, but we did what we could.”
Previous to the conference, Schnell held regular practices after school to help lower their times on the events down to what the state archives listed as the best score. The team won third place in categories Knot Tying and Cable, and second place in Legging and Sewing, which landed them in first place overall.
Schnell became a State Thespian Officer this year and also helped raise about $2,000 at an auction table at the conference.
Junior Kate Arendes won an Accomplished Rating in Scenic Design, which featured her original scenery from Rumors. In addition, her one-act “The Woodlawn Redemption” was chosen to be showcased at the conference; she was assigned to a director at the conference and found a cast by holding auditions. Her one-act was Webster’s first “page to stage” selection in over a decade.
“There was a great Q & A after each run [of the play]. She talked to the audiences about the process and had a great experience with the people involved. Kate wants to pursue writing and this proved to be a valuable part of her journey,” Scheaffer explained.
Sophomore Goldie Raznick was given an Accomplished Rating in her monologue and qualified for Nationals, which will take place this June. Senior Emily Jackoway and junior Justin Comegys performed part of the opening scene of Rumors, for which they received an Accomplished Rating in Duet Acting and will advance to Nationals.
The website www.thescons.blogspot.com offers more photos and information regarding conferences the WGHS Drama department has participated in.