Stu­dents’ play marathon helps fund trip

Westlake High drama teams help pay for Scot­land trip at ini­tial 12-Hour Play Fes­ti­val.

Austin American-Statesman - - COMMUNITY NEWS - By Suzanne Ma­jors Davis Wes­take Picayune con­tribut­ing writer

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.

SUZANNE MA­JORS DAVIS / FOR WESTLAKE PICAYUNE

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.

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