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WHHS drama students win awards at theater festival

Theatre Department at West Henderson High won several top honors from the 2017 NCTC High School Play Festival, held at Greensboro College on Nov. 16.

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West’s 28 theatre students, led by Kelly Cooper, made the school and community proud with their presentation of “Anatomy of Gray” at the Festival, and were thrilled to bring home the following awards: a “Superior” rating, Festival Spirit Award, Barbizon Excellence in Design & Production-Lighting Design (Victoria Montiel Rodriguez), Barbizon Excellence in Design & Production-Original Music Score (Josh Morrow), Excellence in Acting (Lydia Goode), Excellence in Ensemble Acting, Excellence in Directing (Kelly Cooper), and Distinguished Play.

For over 30 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 live performing arts. The program was named one of the “Top High School Theatre Festivals” by Stage Directions Magazine, is the largest high school theatre event in the Southeast, and has been replicated in 9 other states. This year, 3,000 students from 93 schools performed 126 plays!

Each fall, professional theatres, colleges and high schools host 8 regional Festivals across the state. The top 2 outstanding productions from each of the regional sites advance to the NCTC State High School Play Festival, which will be on November 16-17 at Greensboro College. Winners there go on to represent the state of NC at the Southeastern Theatre Conference’s annual convention, which will be in Mobile, AL in 2018.

The atmosphere at the Play Festival is positive and exciting, and students are filled with energy as they watch shows, learn from their peers and make new theatre friends. Schools travel with theatrical sets and load-in to a 10’x10’ backstage area. Before their 45 minute time limit begins, students eagerly await hearing the starting phrase, “Your time begins NOW!”, to which they respond with an enthusiastic reply. The 45 minute time limit includes setting up, performing the play and clearing the stage. Following their performance, students join their peers in the cheering audience to receive feedback from professional actors and directors with Broadway and Hollywood credits. Actors, designers, writers, directors and teachers are celebrated, and bring home awards that are displayed beside school sports trophies.