Students’ play marathon helps fund trip
Westlake High drama teams help pay for Scotland trip at initial 12-Hour Play Festival.
Creativity was flowing as Westlake High School theater students enthusiastically wrote and produced short, original skits during the first ever 12-Hour Play Festival last month.
Meredith Yanchak, director of theater, came up with the idea to help defray the cost of a trip some students will take this summer to perform in the American High School Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland.
Yanchak said Westlake drama students started their own festival at 7 a.m. on Feb. 18.
“First, they brainstormed. Then they wrote, competed for costumes and props,” Yanchak said, noting they memorized lines, rehearsed and later performed their 10-minute plays in the school’s Black Box Theatre.
Six teams of students in varying grade levels competed in the “Hunger Games”themed contest. Like in the “Hunger Games” movie, they “form alliances to help with their show, and collaborate on sound or costume changes, and even exchange actors” from other teams, Yanchak said.
Before the final judging, the drama department already had raised about half of its $2,500 fundraising goal. In another similarity to the “Hunger Games,” students had to gain sponsors. They used social media to find people who could provide things at the last minute, such as props not available at the school.
About 15 of the approximately 120 drama students will perform Ken Ludwig’s play, “The Three Musketeers” four times during their pilgrimage to the Fringe Festival.
Performers will spend nine days in Scotland and three days in London. The trip will cost about $6,600 per student. Yanchak said they have raised about $8,000 to defray costs for families. The trip is expensive because almost a third of the cost goes to the festival to help produce the show, and the rest is travel-related.
“My favorite part is that we have an idea that we put together quickly, then just a few hours later, we have a play,” Westlake senior Claire McCaslin said of the 12-Hour Festival. “It is fun, and one of the few competitions where we get to compete against each other.”
“It’s good for seniors to show what theater is like for prospective students who come to the performance,” said Sabine Noorani, adding that she is in her fourth “fun year” in theater.
Senior Cal Ussery said he liked “forming agreements with other teams to exchange props,” and enjoys competing with teammates because they don’t get to do that very often. They’re usually working together.
Ussery said Team Blub, which performed “Gator Fever,” was the overall winner because it raised the most money. The play “Five Stages of Grief,” performed by team TTEA, was awarded audience favorite.
The winning teams were thankful to receive gift cards from local sponsors.
The next theater performance will be Monday, when the students perform a UIL one-act play, “Bob: A Life in Five Acts,” written by Peter Sinn Nachtrieb. It will be open to the public at the Westlake Performing Arts Center. Tickets are $5.
Westlake High School theater students Holden Pizzolato (from left), Sabeen Noorani, Cal Ussery and Claire McCaslin plan the rehearsal for a play that they wrote and performed in the 12-Hour Play Festival. Six teams of students competed in the “Hunger Games”-themed contest.
Bastrop Intermediate student Caden Bennett helps serve soup at the My Little Things Catering booth.