From Feb. 4 to 6, the Westminster Players attended Thescon, the Georgia Thespian Conference based in Columbus, attended by theater troupes from all over the state. At the convention, students were able to watch shows, attend classes, and perform in individual events in order to advance to the national conference. This year, 62 Westminster students attended Thescon, a record number for the school.
“During the days, there are classes, shows, competitions, meals, and a big costume dance at night,” said theater department director Kate Morgens. “Students are assigned to chaperones and travel in pairs, choosing any event they want to attend. An ‘average’ day is anything but average – it’s really pretty incredible.”
At the conference, students attended workshops on a multitude of theater-related topics. Some that were offered included; “Oh! The Things You Can Do With a Bald Cap,” “Swing Dance,” “KAPOW! The Art of Stage Combat,” “Cirqueshop,” and “Stilt Walking.” Students also learned how to ace an audition, sew by hand, or apply old-age makeup, along with much more. Attendees could also opt out of workshops.
“There are classes at the Thespian Conference that we would never be able to offer at Westminster; the diversity of offerings is amazing,” said Morgens. “There are set building courses, stage combat, old age make-up, audition technique, filmmaking, et cetera. Also, schools from all over the state bring their shows to Thescon. Some of them are incredible. It’s wonderful for the students to feel that there is a big world of theater beyond our gates.”
Plays and musicals produced by high school theater troupes all over the state performed at Thescon for attendees. The performances ranged from dramas like Wit, a play about a woman suffering from cancer during her last two hours of life, to comedic musicals like How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, a musical following J. Pierrepont Finch, a former window-washer, in his climb to the top of the business ladder. Schools audition before the conference to have their show chosen and performed there.
“My favorite part of Thescon was seeing shows and I.E.’s,” said sophomore Katherine Taylor. “The shows were all amazing and showed how great high school performers can be. Every I.E. from a Westminster student was fabulous and breathtaking.”
Thescon provides an opportunity for students to showcase their singing, acting, or technical abilities in Individual Events. If a student receives a “Superior” rating, they are able to advance to the National Competition in Lincoln, Nebraska. At the national level, students compete for college scholarships from schools across the country. This year, senior Jake Smith and junior Allie Jeffay performed singing Individual Events, and juniors Anna Harrison and Josh van der Eerden performed in the acting category. Seniors Leafia Sheraden Cox and Devan Suber, along with junior Lauren Mobley and sophomore Ethan Denning, performed in several technical I.E.’s as a team. Cox also presented her stage manager portfolio from last fall’s production of Titanic for a separate Individual Event. Jake Smith received a superior rating for his performance of “Seeing You There,” from the musical Ordinary Days, and will have the option to attend the National Conference this June.
“The benefits of Thescon are numerous,” said Morgens. “You will meet students and teachers who are talented and exciting. You can take an incredible number of courses and learn a lot, especially about things like ‘Cirque’ that we could not offer at Westminster. It’s a great bonding time for our troupe – we get closer as a group and have a great time. It’s wonderfully fun watching your classmates compete, and competing yourself!”
On the Friday night of the conference, the convention hosted a dance with a specific theme for attendees. This year’s theme was “Rave.” At the dance, attendees enjoyed a fun time dancing to music or getting to know other students.
“My favorite part about Thescon is the people,” said senior Joseph Allan. “Everyone there is really cool and interesting to get to know.”
Thescon draws in involved thespians from high schools around the state, including students from nearby schools such as Grady, Milton, Whitefield, Johns Creek, Blessed Trinity, Woodward, and Galloway.
“I love attending classes myself, to be honest, because I learn a lot every time that I attend,” said Morgens. “I love meeting other teachers from Georgia and learning about their theatre programs and productions. I love hearing about classes that the students loved on the bus on the way home. And I secretly find it hilarious when a student hates a class, and we all secretly plan to never attend that class again!”