Drama department performed its fall play “Hamlet” at the Missouri State Thespian Conference in Kansas City, MO Jan. 7-9, and awaits acceptance to the International Thespian Festival in Lincoln, Nebraska in June.
“Hamlet” by William Shakespeare was selected to perform at the conference along with one other show from another Missouri school, Raymore-Peculiar High School, which happened to be another Shakespeare play, “Much Ado About Nothing.”
To be selected perform at the conference, drama teacher Todd Schaefer had to submit the show to be adjudicated. Two state judges were sent to see “Hamlet” live with an audience at the high school.
“They put your show against a rubric, and they score it and they give you comments,” Schaefer said. “The best score wins a slot.”
Senior Kate Arendes, who played Gertrude, said the biggest difference between performing at the high school and performing at the conference was amount of space. “The biggest factor was the size of the audience, and just the fact that the audience was composed of people who really cared about theater,” she said.
“Hamlet” was student designed through the technical theater classes, and many different students’ ideas were presented and incorporated in the final production.
“Much Ado About Nothing” was student actors, and some students were on the crew, but all leadership roles were adults, according to Schaefer.
“The kids have to be reminded that we can’t compare,” Schaefer said. “You have to compare against yourself, how did you do? Every program is coming at it financially at a different standpoint and…philosophy.”
At the conference, in addition to attending workshops, students could audition for college and scholarships since college representatives attended the event to recruit for college theater programs. The conference also gave awards and grants to teachers and had competitions including tech challenge, improv olympix and different individual events.
Schaefer said his students participated in “almost everything.”
When he first started taking his students to the conference, Schaefer said they didn’t compete for a few years, but he thinks it’s better to enter the competitions now.
”I think it’s way more valuable when you’re bringing something and have to have something prepared and put your work out in front of the other Missouri Thespians,” Schaefer said.
“There is definitely a spectrum that you will see at conference. You will see a variety of shows there, one-acts and main stages, and you will see the variety of caliber,” Schaefer said.
At the conference, students auditioned for the All State show “Iphigenia,” which will be performed at the 2017 state conference. Each school could submit up to four students to audition, and juniors Hannah Leatherbarrow and Jacob Noce were selected from the high school.
Senior Jonah Schnell won a scholarship for his lighting design for “Hamlet,” senior Essence Tyler won a scholarship in the performance event, and senior Kate Arendes got the highest score in the individual event for her marketing design for “Hamlet.”