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Enriching with the arts

An overview of this year’s Thespian Festival

It’s 9 a.m. on a Friday morning and you’re running on four hours of sleep, suddenly to be woken up by the radiating energy of your peers, an unexpected music and light show, and the promise of theatre in the air. After hearing Broadway actress, Katie Travis’, inspiring speech on braving the unknown, you’re ready to begin this weekend’s intensive.

On Dec. 8 and 9, 16 of South’s most dedicated student thespians attended the annual Michigan Thespian Festival (Thes Fest). A statewide conference of student performers join together in Lansing to form an educational environment to cultivate creativity. The bulk of the event was occupied by tens of performance-based, technologically focused and academic theatre classes. With sessions taught by professors of the arts, Broadway stars and even student leaders, attendees had the ability to practice and learn new skills.

In addition to the variety of courses, there were also events for students to enroll in. Opportunities for students to compete in educational competitions, demonstrate talents and passions for fun and even opportunities to benefit student’s future. Many participants, like Joe Stapelton ’23, appreciate the additional benefits of Thes Fest.

“(Thes fest) gives students an outreach to colleges,” Stapleton said. “At the final showcase, we got to see everybody who earned scholarships to different schools, even ranging in the six-figure mark. It also gives us more confidence in the future of this art. There are this many people doing this, so I can say that I can invest. I can be confident investing my life in something like that and I think that’s important.”

Not only does Thes Fest teach students new techniques and mechanics, but it also creates a powerful and inspiring atmosphere. This environment builds a sense of confidence and support resulting from shared passions across hundreds of students. Jolina Huchingson ’25 recognizes that theatre often goes unnoticed, so a place specially designed to cultivate such an art form is a fulfilling experience.

“(At Thes Fest) there are these people all around with the same interests as you,” Huchingson said. “It’s really valuable to find community in your surrounding areas and connect with people you would have not necessarily connected with anywhere else.”

Attending a weekend of teacher workshops that will be used in his own directing, like intimacy consent and communicating your boundaries in high school theatre, English teacher and Drama Director Daniel DeMarco enjoyed his experience at Thes Fest. After observing how the system works, DeMarco confirms that bringing South productions to compete at Thes Fest is an ultimate goal.

“We try to give you (students) opportunities that allow you to apply what you learn in a textbook or an exercise,” DeMarco said. “But in this setting though, you do this with people from different areas of the state. Learning from different people who teach at different schools is a different experience. Being with students from around the state is a different experience. Being able to perform on stage, that’s a different experience. So all of these are things that just extend what we do in here and allow you to see how this applies not just to your work in the school but what’s going to happen to you out there beyond our walls.”

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About the Contributor
Aliana Ritter ’25
Aliana Ritter ’25, Copy Editor
Aspiring thespian, punctilious writer, and student council Vice President, Copy Editor Aliana Ritter ’25 brings another zealous member to the tower team. Ritter lives a life of organized chaos, especially when participating in her many extracurricular activities while remaining a devoted honors student. “I’ve always wanted to be on a newspaper and to feel the pressure of deadlines. I feel like it's such an important job,” Ritter said. “I enjoy copy editing because I am very meticulous and I love everything to be concise and precise.” With her gifted imagination, Ritter draws inspiration from her passion for reading and creative writing. Lastly, she would like to note her enthusiasm for the use of colored pens and distaste for pencils, in hopes of adding a bit more vibrance to a very dull world.

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