Drama students travel to LA for CA State Thespian conference

April 1, 2019 — by Anishi Patel and Oliver Ye

Students compete, attend workshops and receive professional feedback at the CST.

Drama students attended the annual California State Thespian conference, a program of the International Thespian Society, on March 29. The conference offers multiple events for students to compete in, ranging from individual monologues to group pieces, and some events even incorporate song and dance.  

Over the course of three days, high schoolers from all over California met in Orange County to perform their pieces, got feedback from professionals in the field and worked with their peers to create and practice new performance pieces.

For as long as drama teacher Sarah Thermond can remember, drama students from the school have been attending the CST annually. According to Thermond, the number of students who have attended the competition each year has varied, but at least one student has placed top three in their event each year.

Although the number of students that plan to attend this year is much lower than in previous years, Thermond feels that the group still has a good chance to win some awards.

“Statistically, it's affecting our odds, but it's a group of really experienced people, so I feel like they're doing their best making smart choices about their categories and their scripts and their partners,” Thermond said.

Regardless of awards, Thermond said the conference offers students a unique opportunity to receive feedback from qualified judges — all CST judges are theater educators or professionals from the Orange County area.

“I’ve had a lot of students say that the most useful part of this trip is the [feedback] sheets they get back,” Thermond said. “They get feedback from someone who isn't me, who doesn't have any context for how much they've improved. It's really a good way to get the kind of experience that is more true to college auditions and working in theater professionally.”

Experienced members of the team explored multiple events — junior Marly Feigin competed in solo musical and duet musical with senior Mateo Morganstern, juniors Natalie Tjahadi, Eman Ahmad and Emilie Prillwitz competed in duet musical, juniors Ritika Kuppam and Surbhi Bhat, as well as senior Shasta Ganti, competed in monologue events, seniors Raghav Malaviya, Ganti and Morganstern competed with a group acting scene and senior Asha Kar competed in stage managing.

Bhat, who has participated in speech and debate throughout her high school career, competed in a monologue event, where she translated her speech skills into an individual dramatic performance. Seven-hundred students competed in Bhat’s event.

By the end of the tournament, Ganti, Morganstern, Malaviya, Kuppam, Bhat, Feigin, Kar, Ahmad and Prillwitz had all qualified for nationals, which will occur in Nebraska, in various events. However, the drama students will not be attending the national competition due to various conflicting schedules.

“You’re just around a bunch of people who love to do the same thing you do — acting and being a part of the theater community — which is really amazing,” Bhat said.

7 views this week