WHEATLAND – Thespian Troupe 605 is gearing up for the State Drama competition coming up and held a showcase for parents and the community last week.
“We have some really talented students that have worked really hard,” said drama co-director Merlin Hitt. “You never know how the judges are going to score projects.”
For the performance side, Halle Smith created a Devised Theatre project about how important bees are to the world and what people could do to prevent the decline of bees like protecting their habitat and refraining from using pesticides. Devised Theatre is an original work created by students about an issue they feel passionate about.
“My brother and I were discussing about how bees dying is a real-life problem,” said creator Halle Smith on her inspiration for the piece. “I really liked creating something that is impactful but fun. I found inspiration in past shows I’ve seen and ideas I liked.”
She also encouraged her actors to contribute their ideas. Halle’s twin sister performed in the show and had this to say about doing an original work versus a published play.
“For a regular script you’re just memorizing what someone else wrote,” Elly explained. “With something original there is a lot more improvisation and working together.”
“Multiple brains working on a project is better than just one,” added fellow performer Jamie Wardell.
There were several individual and small group performances in acting. There were more definitely more vocal selections than in previous years including songs from “The Sound of Music,” “White Christmas,” and “Gypsy.” The show ended with a one act, “Boxes,” written by Kendra Thomas and directed by Hitt. Performed in arena-style with the audience sitting onstage, it was a much more intimate setting for the show portraying how teens deal with expectations placed on them by family and friends and that they must ultimately decide what’s best for themselves.
The performers were encouraged to be involved in the backstage elements of the show. They worked on costumes, set and props for their own shows as well as helping out where needed. Not seen onstage for this performance was Elizabeth Crowley. However, she was running lights and sound behind the scenes and made sure everything ran smoothly.
Four seniors will be auditioning for scholarships. Jamie Wardell is auditioning for musical theatre, Brooke May for acting, Hava Cundall for dance and acting and Elizabeth Crowley for technical theatre. Several colleges will have representatives present for the auditions and Wheatland has had several students receive scholarships in the past. Amelia Winter is in her second year on full musical theatre scholarship at Sheridan College. Matthew Wilhelm, a 2019 graduate from Wheatland, is currently on theatre scholarship at Casper College in acting and costume design. His costume construction project of a turn-of-the century men’s morning suit won first place at the International Thespian Festival last year.
May will be attending State for her fourth year in a row and fresh off placing second at the International Thespian Festival last summer after obtaining a perfect score at State for her costume design of “A Lion in Winter.”
“Throughout my four years I’ve gained experience as an actress, but also as a person,” she explained. “Theatre is a very emotional activity. Each character has taught me something about myself.”
In addition to their performance-based pieces, the students completed technical theatre projects and some were on display. The tech projects included costume designs, stage management and publicity among others.
The students and coaches (Hitt and Kalyn Krotz) will travel to the University of Wyoming in Laramie Dec. 5 through 7 to compete with over 700 drama students from 25 different schools from around the state.