Troupe 0846 attends “The Greatest Festival on Earth” for the first time


Troupe 0846’s first time at the State Festival met with rave reviews.

Thespians from all around the state of Florida came to Tampa to experience “the greatest festival on Earth.” Florida has 15 districts full of talented students, who had previously participated in Districts and made their way to States, which began on Wednesday, March 20. Academy girls represented District 9 and Troupe 0846, led by dramatic arts teacher Ms. Melissa Cox.

Tampa Bay Fox 13 broadcast the event live from the Convention Center from 7 -9 am.  Thespians also competed at the Tampa Theatre and Straz Center. The festival offered several activities for the troupes, ranging from college auditions for juniors and seniors, One Acts, Main Stages or participation in fun-filled workshops taught by professionals in the performing arts industry.

Day 1, March 20
The first day troupe 0846 arrived in the Convention Center excited for experiencing the State Festival for the first time. They watched individual events (IE’s) to get ideas for performing in Districts this upcoming October and then headed to the Straz to watch One Acts. After watching several performances, they took a lunch break and headed downtown.

Once the girls finished lunch, they changed into semi-formal dresses for the opening ceremonies and came back to the Straz. The girls attended the first presentation of opening ceremonies to give them a taste of what events would follow on the next three days. The stage had transformed into a circus with magicians, ballerinas and aerial dancers. The Thespian Board welcomed everyone who came from all around the state, followed by selected presentations from each district, each designated as “the critic’s choice.”  Academy girls agreed that their favorite ones were “Legally Blonde” by Benjamin Hach O’Keefe and “It Never Ends,” a pantomime by Alvarez and Company.

Day 2, March 21
For their second day the girls attended the “casting types” workshop, which was taught by Amanda Tepe, a professional actress. The girls were attentive to Tepe while she talked about her experiences and career through the years. When she finished her background information, she initiated an activity in which students volunteered to be judged on what their typing cast would be. The common types were shy, awkward, princess, jock, bad boy, boy next door, smart aleck and best friend.

Two Academy girls volunteered to learn how to introduce themselves for an audition and how to decide what their casting types would be. Tepe also showed how to audition online and how to make a demo-reel or video. She showed the class her personal demo-reel with scenes of her participation on Disney’s “Wizards of Waverly Place.”

After concluding the workshops, the girls changed for the Mainstage show that night, “Bat Boy; The Musical,” performed by American Heritage School from District 13.

Day 3, March 22
The third day the girls participated in more than one workshop and were able to experience working with people they did not know from other parts of Florida. The first workshop  was “Improv Mania” by Don Stallings, professional actor, comedian and writer. Stallings was the girls’ personal favorite teacher because he started the class by making everyone feel comfortable in working with new people. The ice-breaker activities included one in which participants had to go up to 10 people they did not know and give them a hug.  Other exercises that the girls enjoyed were the “awkward speed dating game” and “there I was.” Overall, this class taught the girls how to loosen up, pay attention to their partners and make the audience laugh.

Another workshop the girls attended was “Acting for Film/TV” directed by Aaron Jackson, professional actor, manager, producer and motivational speaker. He also spoke about his career and gave the students tips of what to do when pursuing an acting career.  In one exercise, he gave two students scripts, set the mood as if it were a real audition, and taught them how to go through the process. After attending the workshops, the troupe changed into their attire for the night. They arrived in the Tampa Theatre to watch “Blood Relations” performed by Indian River Charter High School from District 11.

Day 4, March 23
The girls spent the day watching one acts such as” The Nun Cracker” by Lakewood Ranch High School and “Trapped” by Lecanto High School. They also attended a “dialect triggers” workshop in which they learned how to flip from one character to another when playing multiple roles. The girls also met the students who performed the pantomime “It Never Ends” and take a picture with them.

The closing ceremony at the end of the day included pictures from the festival and the presentation of scholarships and other awards. Freshman Emilie Ulbricht was blown away by the events at the Festival.  “States was awesome because I made friends, saw tons of amazing acts and over all had a great time.”

Sophomore Maggie Brekka said that her first experience at the State Thespian Festival was a memorable experience. “It was fun to watch other troupes perform and to attend workshops. It was definitely an experience I will never forget.”