The Drama Teachers Association of Southern California (DTASC) hosted a festival on October 25, 2014 for high school students looking to show off their theatrical skills. This year’s festival was held at Temecula Valley High School in the Lake Elsinore district, and Valencia High School’s theater department performed very well.
After 12 hours of competing, Valencia High School’s (VHS) advanced theater class was awarded 8 different awards.
Known for their efforts to create safe networks for theater educators and students, the association hosts two types of competitions during the year. The fall festival calls schools from Bakersfield to San Diego. In addition to traditional categories, like “monologues” and “large group comedy,” the event features categories such as social change and ‘More than a Narrator.’ The social change category calls for a maximum of four actors to present a social issue such as racism and violence in their scene and bring awareness to it. ‘More than a Narrator’ involves four actors in a scene where one person must be a narrator and also a key character at the same time.
DTASC’s rules and guidelines were established to give every high school an equal opportunity at winning. Use of props – with the exception of up to four chairs – and costumes are forbidden in every single category. To ensure that the judges are not biased towards certain institutions, each school is given a code, such as XC or R, to state before they present their scenes.
Each category was designed to test students’ raw abilities to act without having to rely on elaborate set ups and items.
“Every single entry from Valencia made it to semifinals,” said junior Ayana Sarriediene in an interview with JSR. “This hasn’t happened at our school in years and I could not have been more happy.”
Valencia’s adaptation of “The Outsiders” by S.E Hinton swept the competition and won the approval of all of the judges who spectated. Competitors largely remarked that the musical cast’s presentations of songs from “Wicked,” “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” and “Side Show” were soulful and well-executed.
When asked by JSR about how he felt about the preparation, a company member answered with confidence.
“I think that that initial stages of development were a bit frightening because we have such a big cast,” said junior Hudson Hedge of the large open comedy. “But once I saw all of the titles and the finalized cast for each category, I felt reassured and excited for what’s to come.”
After the semifinal rounds, competitors from VHS qualified for the final round of the competition in six of seven categories. Each of the rounds was narrowed down to the last ten high schools and their last performances determined who left the event with trophies.
Valencia High School was awarded with First Place in both ‘More than a Narrator’ and Large Open Drama, Second Place in Sweepstakes, Third Place in Large Group Comedy, Fourth Place in Musical, Fifth Place in Social Change, and honorable mentions in Costuming and Pantomime.
“Getting one first place is hard as it is,” explained theater teacher Stephen Whelan to JSR. “Winning two medals is exceedingly rare and I couldn’t have been more proud.
In addition to Valencia, three other schools from the William Hart District competed at the DTASC event. In total, 74 high schools throughout Southern California participated.