How I Ruined the World – Part Two

Our intern Jillian previously shared her thoughts about writing an original musical about the Gulf oil spill. The play was performed in December. Here’s how it went:

On December 2nd and 3rd, Thespians from all over Volusia County in sunny Florida gathered in DeLand High School for this year’s District 3 Thespian Competition. My Troupe, 5340, was no exception, and after school on Friday a small group of us, the cast of our one act, How I Ruined the World, climbed into several cars and went to perform, followed the next day (bright and early!) by the rest of the troupe, to include about twenty freshmen who had never attended a districts competition before.

For the Freshmen, it was a real treat. They had never been around so many people in theatre, never been allowed to compete in and see others compete in so many different ways. Their excitement and nervousness was palpable, and I enjoyed watching them meet new people who loved the same thing I had loved for four years. “This is so much fun; I’ve never had this much fun!” One of our newbies, Bobby, reminded us throughout the day. Beside our freshmen, we had several sophomores and juniors who were a little more experienced come to districts as well, and they were pleased it was just as much fun as districts last year, many of them recognizing friends and actors from pieces they had seen before. For us seniors, it was a bittersweet experience; We enjoyed our time there as we had every year for the past four years, spending time between acts catching up with old friends from other troupes, learning who was going to college where, and guiding the newbies throughout the two days. It was also a bit sad, as we realized this was the last year we would ever be able to do this. “It’s funny; it’s just like our freshmen year all over again,” My friend Chantel told me. “With all these new freshmen and so many seniors gone, we hardly know anyone again!”

For me, once I got by the initial teary eyed, “This-is-my-last-year” feeling, I fell back into the swing of Districts. Depending on what and how many acts you bring to compete with, you may have a lot of free time on your hands to go see other performances, or very little. This year, I brought two performance pieces– One, a duet scene that earned an Excellent at the end of the day, and a large group musical that earned Alternative Critic’s Choice– both of which were spread out enough throughout the day that I was able to see a myriad of solo musical pieces, my favorite and probably the most competitive and busy event of Districts. Beside those two pieces, I also brought my one act my friend and I wrote to districts, both to perform in and to enter into Playwriting. I’m very pleased to say that in the playwriting competition, my friend and I earned Critic’s Choice, and we (as a troupe, now) earned Critic’s Choice for the performance aspect as well. Outside of my performances, the rest of troupe 5340 was very busy, and I count myself lucky I got to see my fellow thespians perform as many times as I did that day. Together, we performed our one act on Friday, and on Saturday, we entered at least one event into nearly every performance and technical category! We had several ensemble acting scenes, at least two duet scenes, three solo musicals, (All of which earned superiors– a rarity we’re proud of!) two pantomime pieces, three monologues, two costume designs, and a duet musical, if I’m not mistaken. Our troupe performed excellently, walking away with more excellents, superiors, Critic’s Choices and trophies than I could keep track of! Our freshmen were beyond proud of themselves, and us older thespians couldn’t help but share their happiness as Districts came to a close.

This competition is one of a kind, if you’ve ever been lucky enough to attend. There are kids from so many different troupes and schools from all around the district, each troupe bringing so many acts to compete in. You’d almost expect competition would be fierce– kids sneakily watching events, looking for ways to one-up or sabotage their competitors. Yet, it’s not like that at all. When you go to compete, you’re in a room being watched by people all from different troupes, and yet after each event, you can hear kids you don’t know whispering to you– “That was great!” “Good job!” “Wow!”– And giving you thumbs ups and smiles. When, at the end of districts, awards and scores are announced, everyone claps and cheers– When they recognize you after, they congratulate you, with smiles all around! Districts is a competition, but by the end of the day, you feel like you’ve attended more of a very large, very crazy family reunion that takes place once a year than any sort of competition. And then you come back, year after year, and keep doing it– and it’s never different. The kids change each year, but the feeling, the excitement and nervousness and happiness when someone performs their part well, even someone you’ve never seen before in your life– that never changes. It hasn’t the four years I’ve been attending, and I doubt it will in the future.

This year marked the last year for myself and my closest friends to attend, but the first of many for the younger thespians from troupes all over the District. As we were all leaving, I heard a group of kids from my troupe yelling to a group of kids from another– “See you next year!” And they will. I hope they all have as much fun as they did this year at every District’s competition they attend in the future.

Long live Troupe #5340!

– Jillian Harvey

About the author

Craig Mason