2016 Thespian State: "State Wars"
Thespian State occurred Mar. 31 through April 2 at the Salem Convention Center, with the theme of Star Wars [“State Wars”]. It is a pinnacle event for Oregon, with over 1000 students and teachers attending, and featuring events such as presentations, workshops, and multiple one act plays, along with two dances.
“It’s really fun, and it’s just like three days of people who are exactly like you getting together,” Samantha Mock ‘17 said.
Schools who attend have the chance to apply to have one of their Main State Productions featured at the event, listed as “one of the top high school shows of the year,” according to the Oregon Thespian website. All the troupes that attend, however, are expected to participate in some way. This may include bringing one-act plays or scenes to be showcased in the One Act Marathon, or they may choose to present a troupe-sponsored workshop. These workshops are offered by local and national theatre professionals, college students, and professors.
“The workshops are really fun, but definitely the Main Stage productions are my favorite thing because it’s really fun to see what other troops are doing and you’re like ‘oh my god, we should do that show’,” Mock said.
There are also Technical Theatre events, which include opportunities for students to advance for adjudication and recognition on both the State and National levels.
“State was lit,” Montana Langford ‘17 said.
The first show was titled Radium Girls, about girls in WWI who painted watches with radium and then proceeded to die from poisoning.
“It was rad as heck,” Ariel Sydnie ‘17 said. “I was the first person in the theatre to start crying.”
This was then followed by the first dance of the weekend, a black and white formal.
On Saturday, there was an absurdist play titled Middletown. Due to its nature as an absurdist play, it was off the wall and confusing. The general consensus, however, was that a woman came to a town to start a family, and she ended up falling in love with the man she was not attempting to. There was then a One Act Marathon, with plays including It Was Better Than the Movie by Jeffrey Harr, and Sure Thing by David Ives.
It Was Better Than the Movie details the story of a first date, and all the ways it go can wrong or right while on one with the girl or boy of their dreams. As Theatrefolk describes it, “Will the giant soda cause bladder issues? Will the Heimlich manoeuvre be needed over a popcorn kernel? Will the disgruntled guy in the back ruin everything? Read on to see how this date turns out!”
Then David Ives’ Sure Thing is about a chance meeting between the two main characters, Betty and Bill, and their conversation. It is reset, to the tune of a ringing bell, every time one of them says something negative to the other.
The last one act was a musical about a beautiful girl, a rich man, and all of the gods.
“It’s really cool, really beautiful,” Sydnie said. “The lighting and everything was just wonderful.”
The girl and man live on the island, which, turns out, is a testing place for the gods as they watch how the man reacts to certain traumatic events – for instance, the girl getting injured.
More one acts were featured the next day. One was Bang Bang, You’re Dead, all about the different school shootings that have occurred recently.
“It’s like, you could die right there, right now, it’s so emotional,” Sydnie said.
The workshop South brought was all about improv. Based off what occurs in classes, they talked about the pillars of improv, character relation objective [CRO], and where, which entails establishing the setting within the first few lines of the scene.
“They just did some basic stuff like that, played some games, and it was lit,” Mock said.
State ended with a showcase on the main stage at the Historic Elsinore Theatre. In order to qualify for the showcase, the top 10% of each category from the Regional Acting Competitions audition. The judges then proceed to select at least two scenes, or as many as 20% per category to perform. All entries that are deemed “superior” at their Regional Competitions, due to their advancement to the final round of auditions at State, are then eligible to enter the Individual Events competition at the International Thespian Festival in Lincoln, Nebraska this June. Max Morter ‘17 and Aric Wood ‘16 had their play featured in the showcase.
Awards for Honor Troupe, technical achievement, and scholarships are presented at the very end, along with the election of the new State Board.