By: Sthefany Flores
Gardner-Webb opened its doors to 12 high schools for the annual North Carolina Theatre Conference (NCTC) High School Play Festival on Nov. 6 and 7. High school theatre groups presented their 45 minute theatre productions, and two plays—“Love Sick” by Hopewell High School and “Fighting Demons” by Lake Norman High School—moved on to the Southeastern Theatre Conference (SETC).
“The High School Play Festival is one of the bigger events of the year,” said Justin Dionne, member of the Board of Governors for NCTC. “I always love the festival atmosphere even though it’s a competition. It’s great to see the positive vibe that the students show as they support one another.”
The support was clearly heard and seen on both days of the event. The students’ cheers at the end of each play could be heard through the walls of the theatre in the commons. Students also purchased paper stars and wrote messages of encouragement on them for one another.
The students participating had to follow several rules along with their directors. All productions were limited to 45 minutes and the cast and crew had to load props in and out of the stage area in less than 10 minutes. The props had to fit into 8×8 ft. outlines; anything outside the outlines could not be used. Actors had 45 minutes in the dressing rooms to get ready and must not have rehearsed on the host site on the day of the event. Shows that break these rules are disqualified.
“Not only does the festival allow students to practice their art in front of a varied audience, it also gives them a chance to be seen by colleges if they want to study theatre,” said Christopher Nelson, department chair of Theatre Arts at Gardner-Webb. “Our department thought it was a really good recruitment tool although this is only the second time we have hosted the event.”
NCTC is the resource for theatre in the state, high school, professional and college level and aims to promote the theatre arts and encourage those who participate in it.