November 17, 2021 – The theatre departments at all four of Henderson County Public Schools (HCPS)’ traditional high schools are celebrating their recognition in the 2021 NCTC High School Play Festival regionals held Nov. 5-6 at Gardner-Webb University, having brought a total of 19 group and individual awards home to Henderson County.
This year, HCPS students were among the 1,500+ students from 71 schools performing 89 plays at 7 regional sites for the Play Festival.
Participating schools travel to their regional festival sites with theatrical sets, costumes and props. Each show loads into a 10’x10’ backstage area and when their time comes, each school has 45 minutes to set up, perform the play, and clear the stage. Following their performance, students receive feedback from professional actors and directors with Broadway and Hollywood credits. Awards are given for acting, design, technical craft, ensemble work, and festival spirit. The top 16 productions are invited to perform at the NCTC State High School Play Festival, held Nov. 19 and 21 at Greensboro College.
West Henderson High’s theatre program, led by Kelly Cooper, presented “Puffs” at the Regional Festival, and won the “Festival Spirit Award,” “Excellence in Ensemble Acting,” and “Honorable Mention Distinguished Play” as an ensemble. Student Rainy Fizer earned the “Barbizon Excellence in Design & Production” award for Lighting Design, Summer Hyder earned the “Barbizon Excellence in Design & Production” award for Sound Design, and Karsyn Andress earned the “Theatre Arts Award” for Excellence in Narration.
For their production of “The Blue Hour,” Hendersonville High’s theatre program, led by Todd Weakley, snagged the “Festival Spirit Award” and “Theatre Arts Award” for Excellence in Stage Pictures. Student Auden Pelz earned the “Barbizon Excellence in Design & Production” award for Lighting Design, Stage Management, Poster and T-Shirt Design. Alexis Rubianes earned the “Barbizon Excellence in Design & Production” award for Sound Design and Marie Danos took home “Excellence in Acting.”
Theatre teacher Clay Gaitskill led East Henderson High’s production, “Becoming Family: an Original Southern Comedy About Putting the Fun in Funeral,” which earned a Festival Spirit Award and “Theatre Arts Award” for Excellence in Props, and students Rutzel Montiel and Garret Metcalf each earned “Excellence in Acting” awards.
Led by Sydney Bailey, North Henderson High theatre students Emma Osteen, Charleston Reagan and Lola Fisher each earned “Excellence in Acting” awards for their performances in “Zoinks!” which also earned a “Festival Spirit Award.”
The Play Festival allows teachers to fulfill the NC Essential Standards for Theatre Arts: students study and analyze literary texts as they select their Play Festival piece, and during the rehearsal process young artists analyze theatre in terms of the social, historical, and cultural contexts in which it was created. At the NCTC Festival, students use performance to communicate ideas and feelings, and by watching other schools’ performances, students develop critical thinking skills and learn to understand the traditions, roles, and conventions of theatre as an art form.
“We’ve worked hard to cultivate a spirit of community at the Play Festival, where students learn from each other and celebrate each other’s work. They leave with new friends, feeling energized and inspired,” NCTC Executive Director Angie Hays said in a news release.
For 50 years, the NCTC High School Play Festival has strengthened arts education in schools by bringing curriculum to life, challenging students to do their very best work, and contributing to the development of future audiences for the performing arts. The program was named one of the “Top High School Theatre Festivals” by Stage Directions Magazine. It is the largest high school theatre event in the Southeast, and has been replicated in 9 other states.
The NCTC High School Play Festival is made possible with support from the North Carolina Arts Council, a division of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources; Lincoln Financial Group; The Beattie Foundation; Barbizon Lighting Company; Rockingham County Community Foundation; Church Interiors Audio Video; and Strand Lighting.
About the North Carolina Theatre Conference
The mission of NCTC is to strengthen North Carolina’s vibrant theatre industry, and engage tomorrow’s artists, audiences and advocates. NCTC has served as the leader of the statewide theatre industry since 1970, and produces several events throughout the year, including the NCTC Producing Gathering, NCTC College Day, the NCTC Theatre Admin Intensive, the NCTC Awards and statewide NCTC Middle School and High School Play Festivals.
For more information on NCTC, please contact Executive Director Angie Hays at 336-369-1984 or visit www.nctc.org.