Photo: Kirk Sides / Staff Photographer
Friendswood High School students have been invited to perform their original spoken-word performance, “White Noise,” for delegates at the Texas Thespians State Festival to be held Nov. 21-23 in Grapevine.
FHS performers wrote the show as an exploration of issues facing them as teenagers, and technical theater students added images, video and music, with encouragement from their teachers and visiting instructor Steve Wallace, a professor of theater at the University of Houston.
Thanks from students with dyslexia
In one scene, for example, members of the ensemble portrayed the struggle of keeping their inner, childhood dreams alive while tackling aptitude tests, content mastery and paths to a career. On a big screen behind them were images of carefree children.
In another segment, three dyslexic students put their learning order “on trial,” said FHS theater director Kathy Powdrell.
“The scenario is very effective and compelling, and we have had outstanding responses from it,” she said. “Students in grades 6 to 12 who have that condition thanked our actors for illustrating that they can be normal, creative and successful.”
Powdrell said the school’s International Thespian Society group, Troupe No. 1084, submitted a videotape of “White Noise” and photographs from the production for consideration as a presentation on the Main Stage of the 2019 thespian festival.
“We were selected to perform for an hour and 15 minutes,” she said.
The FHS thespian troupe is led by officers Taylor Greny, Eric Jensen, Margaret Otto, Taylor Campbell and Olivia Beken.
Other FHS students who will attend the festival and perform include: Lauren Ballard, Ashley Campbell, Rylee Dever, Meg Dodson, Chase Donovan, Emma Ferro, Dean Galloway, Soleil Gignac, Hayden Hobbs and Keana Jazdyk.
Other student performers are: Luke Johnstone, Balint Kidd, Thomas Massey, Maris Morgan, Tara Ryan, Skylynn Smith, Nelson Thornton, Logan Tunnel, Emily Vu and Gabby Weakley.
More than 8,000 delegates from schools throughout Texas are expected to attend the weekend of performances, workshops and training activities at the Gaylord Texas Resort and Convention Center in Grapevine.
“Some of our students will be auditioning for colleges and entering technical theater competitions and acting events,” said Powdrell. “There will be singing, dancing and improvisation.”
Some students will try out for the festival’s all-star cast and the opportunity to perform at the closing ceremony with keynote speaker Wilson Jermaine Heredia. He is best known for portraying Angel Dumont Schunard in the Broadway production of the rock musical “Rent,” winning a Tony Award for best featured actor in a musical in 1996. He also reprised the role in the 2005 film adaptation.
FHS students began working on “White Noise” as soon as they returned in August from performing Henrik Ibsen’s “Peer Gynt” at the International Edinburgh Festival in Scotland. That production had advanced to the region finals of last spring’s University Interscholastic League one-act play competition.
Don Maines is a freelance writer who can be contacted at email@example.com