Close to 2000 theatre and design students from across the Southland descended upon the Fullerton College campus this past weekend for two full days of heated competition, camaraderie and all around theatre geek mayhem and South Pasadena students were right in the thick of it.
The festival began in 1981 and has become a highly anticipated event for SPHS along with close to 70 participating schools who engage in two days of acting and design competition, improvisation, workshops and a whole lot of dancing and crazy fun. Over 150 judges adjudicate 30 rooms of competition each hour and 200 college workers help make this one of the best run theatre festivals in the country.
Theatre Department Head, Nick Hoffa, along with Production Design Head, James Jontz, took a total of 38 actors and technicians to this year’s competition, twice the number they took last year. To anyone who’s paying attention, the program is growing rapidly.
When asked why he feels going to this festival is important for his students, Hoffa explained, “it’s really great for them to see that they’re not the only ones going through this process; there are thousands of kids. So I think it makes you feel that the stories you’re telling aren’t these small, little stories you’re doing for your parents but that you’re entering into a larger story, a larger community of people who are interested in telling stories about the world.”
Senior, Anders Keith, who performed a four person scene from the comedy “Boeing Boeing” about a man dating three flight attendants at the same time and the hilarity that ensues when all three of their flights are simultaneously cancelled, said of his third trip to the event, “it’s Coachella for theatre kids. Really the best part is just looking out on that field and seeing just too many theatre kids all in one place. It’s just kind of beautiful to me actually.”
The competition is fierce and South Pasadena made a strong showing in all categories and placed for the first time in the top ten for their comedic scene, Last Minute Adjustments, about the final moments before birth where angel/doctors are putting all the final touches including inserting a soul. The entire group attended the final performance and cheered on their peers.
Junior Wressey Baugham, who was a part of Last Minute Adjustments along with Jakob Cronkite, Mateo Diez, and Ohad Gilbert, tells us “getting to finals at Fullerton was a crazy, amazing, unexpected experience! Especially because no one from South Pasadena has gotten to finals in Fullerton in recent memory, it was really a reward to be proud of. Really, our group was reaching to get there and we knew it was possible, but the full scope of that achievement was something none of us expected. Hearing our school announced in the finals list was just amazing, we were just freaking out!”
Baugham went on to say, “everyone from South Pasadena who was there with us was excited, and getting our school’s name on that list was rewarding. I’d be lying if I said none of us felt nervous about that final performance-we all wanted to do our best and give this last run our all. But seeing all the other scenes and how great they were, knowing that we were in similar rankings as them, really gave me that satisfaction that after all the work we put into our scene we had really accomplished something.”
When we caught up with Nick Hoffa after the festival he said, “it was a terrific experience for us all to be in the theater cheering on our finalists. Those boys probably worked extremely hard on their piece and so I was excited to see a correlation between hard work and a reward. But in addition to Last Minute Adjustments’ success, every scene and monologue was better at the competition than in class, which was thrilling to see. We are proud of our finalists, but what we care more about is progression – and I saw that from everyone.”
It will certainly be exciting to see SPHS continue to thrive at this competition in the years to come. Next up for SPHS Drama Department is their sure to be funny and entertaining production of The Addams Family. Posters are up all over town and the excitement grows as they anticipate a large audience for this big production. It runs one weekend only April 20-22. Don’t miss it!
The Drama Department received a $2500 Teacher Direct Grant from SPEF at the end of 2017 which paid for the Fullerton Theatre Festival registration for the entire group of 38 actors, designers and stage crew. Your SPEF donations at work!