Under the Moon in Florida…

Just back from a whirlwind of a trip to the Florida State Thespian Festival. The highlight of the trip was seeing my play TUNA FISH EULOGY performed. (Go Bayside!)

I never performed in festivals like Thespians when I was in high school and the tension surrounding the performance was intense! Schools are marked by three judges – two acting and one technical. Everyone wants to get a “Superior” ranking, that is the creme de la creme, particularly at the State level. In order to get that ranking, you have to be marked Superior by two out of three judges.

Once the performance was over, the cast and crew were whisked away (all still in their costumes) to the adjudication, and then five minutes later they learned their ranking. It was so fast that I missed out on the adjudication – I saw the tech crew run off and ran after them but got there just as the door closed.

I’ve never experienced anything like seeing the faces of the cast and crew when they learned they had received Superior at State. This was a school that three years ago didn’t have a drama program and in fact, the first time they even performed on a stage was at their District level competition. They spent their entire spring break, on their own, rehearsing. I’m not sure I’ve met a more dedicated and focused group. What a thrilling and satisfying moment for the school. It’s the end of this particular process, but certainly it’s the beginning of a new era.

Here are some pics of the moment the students found out their ranking.

This is the director Joan Taddie and myself.

Me and everybody! Gee, I feel like a rock star!

And if that wasn’t enough, we still had to exhibit at the conference! We’ve been doing this conference for four years. At the first conference we had, oh, nine scripts on a table, no banner, all our scripts were the same colour so it looked like we had one script, we had no idea how to run a table or talk to people and no one had any idea who we were. People would walk up to us, look at the table oddly and say, “What’s this?” Every consecutive year we’ve worked hard to grow and change and it’s really paid off. I met many students who were doing monologues and duet scenes from our plays. They were enthusiastic and terribly sweet. It was a downright joy. I love having the opportunity to talk theatre with teachers and actors and young playwrights.

One intriguing thread of conversation involved my play TICK TALK which is new this year. There was a lot of “talk” about it and the general consensus is that people either loved it or hated it. Big love and big hate! That is when you know you’re doing something interesting – reaction is good. Indifference is the worst.

My favourite story doesn’t even involve one of my plays! There’s a teacher who often visits our table and who was telling us about her production of “The Lottery” which ends with a stoning. She described to us how they did the stoning, extremely theatrical (and safe) with all the work being done in the minds of the audience. But that’s not the best part – at the beginning of the play, the actors, innocently and sweetly, handed out stones to the audience. Then at the end, they turned to the audience as if to invite them to also throw them. That to me is the essence of a cyclical theatrical experience. The audience becomes the play. And this was at a middle school! It gave me goose bumps. Love it!

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Lindsay Price