From the massive stacked speakers adorning two corners of the curtained blackbox, Imagine Dragons’ Enemy blasts at a volume many would consider... obscene, disturbing, unsafe, and possibly very disruptive to the rest of the building. Inside the room, people are dispersed about the temporary stands, the wooden floor that occupies most of the space and the adjoining costume closet, and laundry room. Those in the room perform, recklessly and flamboyantly, various tasks of immense dexterity, incredible volume, needless vandalism and overall splintering annoyance. From the gaggle of teenaged girls in the corner hosting a very audible and primarily nonsensical conversation consisting mostly of the phrase “your mom”; to the trio of tall boys who spin broom handles, tripod legs, or any other stick-shaped object as if they were bo-staffs, the scene is one of utter maelstrom and chaos. Through it, one boy is led and guided carefully, in detail. At the end, the smile on his face could not be any wider. A psychosis ward in a mental facility? No. These are the people I spend 80% of my week with, welcome to troupe 5872.
Hello Thespians, and greetings from Helotes, Texas- home of Sandra Day O’Connor High School and the aforementioned troupe 5872! Today you’ll take on the… adventure of learning more about the goings on of this remarkable group of people- another of the amazing Thespian troupes that dot our great state. Hopefully by the end, you will have taken some new knowledge or at least information from the way that we run things at OC that you can bring back to your theatre, as well as a reminder of just what ignites the passion of the dramatic arts for many; community.
Recently, O’Connor has had to adapt, as many did, to the task of performance-based art in the middle of a pandemic; this led to a slew of online improv shows held by the various Theatre 1, 2, & 3/4 classes; a completely virtual performance of Annie, as well as a reprisal during the ‘20-’21 school year of Medea, which had been produced a year earlier, but whose UIL appearance was cut short by the pandemic. But as soon as the new school year came around, OC Theatre hit the ground running for a Fall 2021 performance, a rather successful bout of competition at Thes Fest, two spring musicals, a tech showcase, talent show, then individual class showcases- rounding the year off with Senior Directed performances and a final show by the advanced class. The entire season of course sprinkled with a deluge of monologue performances, improv shows, class-directed one acts, and musical scenes. And not inclined to slow down, the officers and directors have an absolutely astounding lineup this season- moving partially away from the grandiose incorporated shows towards more intimate class-centered performances which should help develop and cultivate a love of more fundamental performance techniques within the company. Hopefully this insightful mastery of the core tenets of acting will allow the actors as a whole to produce shows of the highest quality later in the year; among others, already on the docket are shows such as Chicago, Amadeus, and Matt Cox’s Puffs- a wild variety of theme and genre sure to challenge the players of 5872.
My troupe has many a longstanding tradition; whether it be veneration of the ghost that dwells in our Mech. Mezz.; Senior Directs; Tech Showcases; public dedication of every performance to any person who has helped us greatly in the production of the show; or the highly chaotic birthday celebration, in which all of the particular individual’s favorite songs, sayings, mannerisms, or activities are copied and displayed by the rest of the troupe (described at the beginning of the article). OC Theatre is always looking to give back to the community too, whether it be through the hosting of TheatreCon- where many middle-school students come for a day to learn more about the facets of the Dramatic Arts through workshops and performances; or through participation in the annual Helotes tradition of Cornyval (It’s like a carnival, but “helotes'' means “corn” and we are suckers for puns); or simply by taking our shows on the road to visit the junior-highs in our area to get them excited for theatre in high school.
Above every other facet of our being at O’Connor Theatre, though, we have a welcoming and established sense of community. We are, whether many admit it or not, each other’s closest companions. I’m sure this is no surprise to many of you reading this, as many of you are familiar with the sense of family Theatre can provide, and I’m sure many of your most cherished are among your troupe.
Because who else but your very closest friends would stay until midnight after a day of competition to organize set and props for the following day?
Who else would stand by your side, holding fast to steady a heavy pillar about to crash down in the middle of a performance, or waiting at a hair-trigger’s notice to close the mainstage traveler, initiating a series of five-second costume changes?
Who, but your dearest, would slow dance to steady your nerves behind an elaborate set in the dim dark of blue work lights to a playlist rendered masterfully for the upcoming show and the steady buzz of an anticipative audience?
Though you may quarrel and splinter as groups tend to do, you’ll always remember. All of those exciting nights of haunted houses, or ambiguous holiday parties after school, the precise bus ride line-throughs punctuated too frequently with a sharp “Again!” from a dutiful stage manager. All the times, all of the places -yes- but when all is said and done, the people; though ultimately fleeting in your life, will shine among the brightest… as many Theatre kids are wont to do.
I’m only 16- I am young to this world, and this is certainly not how I thought this blog would end, but it’s clear for me even to see that these are the days to cherish, to hold on to. The warm stage lights, and the dusky night air. I’d like to think that I’ve given you a quick glimpse through a little window at our troupe; and the best thing that I can hope is that it reminds you of yours, because if others can feel likewise enthralled to create art they love with people they love- well, maybe I’ve acted well my part, however minute, here at Texas Thespians- and, of course, there all the honor lies.
Men at some time are masters of their fates.
The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves that we are underlings.
-William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar
~Liam Meister, Texas STO, Troupe 5872
Since its creation, Midland High School theater has had a whirlwind history. From hosting Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash to back-to-back state appearances after 40 years of not seeing the UIL state stage, there has not been a dull moment in troop 3376’s lifetime. While those significant events are major parts of the history of our stage, they are only part of what makes our community a whole.
Fall of 2021 was a hectic time for everyone; coming back to our auditorium felt like we had stepped into a time machine and returned to the beginning of the year. Everything from our Varsity OAP show, Suite Surrender (Michael McKeever), was left where it had been after returning home and unpacking from our district performance. Although it made us sad to see what could’ve been with Suite Surrender, we were not disheartened. We immediately got back into the swing of things and started working on our next endeavors. Many people participated in TFA events and State Festival, but the item everyone was looking forward to was OAP season. Not getting to put on a show for the fall season made everyone even more excited to work on our one act, The Old Man and The Old Moon (PigPen Theatre Co.). The Old Man and The Old Moon, or TOMATOM for short, was truly the best show for the company of people we had that year. Every person put their all into the play, and we were thankfully able to show that at state.
After a year of success, everyone was nervous about returning without the 12 seniors who led us along the way. We started our season with Puffs (Matt Cox), which was a massive hit amongst the fellow students of Midland High, selling 700+ tickets for our school performance alone! After Puffs, we decided to step it up and fly an actor or two with our rendition of A Texas Christmas Carol (Barry Smoot). Seeing and feeling an audience's reaction to our Scrooge being “hanged” was an experience I will never forget, but it only made us hungrier. What were we going to do for our next show? Bowl for hussies? Break chairs? Make a slide from a unit set??? Well, if you said yes to all of that, you'd be correct! If I had to describe The Beggar’s Opera (John Gay) in three words, it would be “over the top.” Doing this show was an experience like no other because, to quote John Gay himself, we did “push this play as far as it will go,” and that was all the way back to the State stage.
While the Midland High School drama dawgs may be a small, eclectic group of people way out in the middle of the west, we have done more than proved ourselves as top dawgs. Pups up Midland High!
By: STO Ezekiel Payne, Belton High School, Troupe 3491
You could call the Belton Theatre Thespian Troupe many things. Crazy? Yes. Unorthodox? Yeah. Eccentric? Definitely! But normal? Nope. Due to the variety and quantity of awesome stuff there is to know about Troupe 3491 I’ve decided to split this up into a few sections, which consist of: onstage, backstage, in the classroom, and outside the school.
I’ll begin with the place beloved by many thespian troupes: our stage. The stage holds many memories and traditions for our troupe. Over the last few years, we’ve performed classics like “Matilda” (Roald Dahl and Tim Minchin) and “Into the Woods” (James Lapine and Stephen Sondhiem), while also trying out more modern shows such as, “The Brothers Grimm Spectaculathon” (Don Zolidis) and Puffs (Matt Cox). On top of this, we’ve tried our hand at a few tragedies. Just last fall we performed Antigone (Sophocles and adapted by David Rush). These are just some of the shows we’ve performed and each one holds a special place in our hearts. Now, even though some of us seniors in the troupe have amassed quite a few shows under our belt compared to the freshman, we still can get the pre-show jitters just like anyone else. In order to remedy that, we have a tradition that takes place on stage right before the house opens. This tradition is called O-Lae-Lae. It involves everyone! The cast, crew, and directors get in a large circle and then the senior chosen the previous year for the honor grabs the O-Lae-Lae stick. They then lead the group in various chants until at the end everyone goes as fast as they can and everyone breaks, feeling much more at ease. This has been a part of our department since even before I, a current senior, was here.
Next, we move past the grand drape and find ourselves backstage. This is home to all the actors freaking out over quick changes and techies telling them to be quiet so they can listen for the scene change. It is also occasionally home to bats! This is simply because we often work late into the night striking a show and often leave the doors next to the shop open. Don’t worry, no harm comes to the bats. Instead we promptly name them. Prominent names include Batthew McConaughey and Sir. Batrick Stewart. Backstage is also home to our very own UIL State Theatrical Design qualifier, the amazing Allison Vekasy. Allison created beautiful costume designs for the competition and still acts as an ace up our troupe’s sleeves for both costumes and props! Backstage is also the starting point for one of the events we hold dubbed, “Tech Olympics”. We gather several middle schools together to compete through various technical challenges. The winner gets to take home a trophy that was kept by the previous winner. Alongside the trade off is the choice of adding one thing to the trophy each year to make it bigger, better, and more ridiculous. Games can include speed costume measurements, rope tying, Drill time trials, and more! Now, we also have traditions backstage including meditation circles and “campfire” both of which are used to calm nerves and bond the troupe before shows or during tech week. More extroverted traditions include the boy’s and girl’s traditions. All the Guys will do a secret tradition unknown to any of the girls and vice versa for the girl’s tradition. Luckily I can fill you in on what the guy’s tradition is! So first ███ █████████ ██ ███████ ████ ███ ████ ███████ ███ ████████ ███████ ████ ███ █ ████ ███ ██ ███ ██████ █████ ██ ████ ███ ██████ ███ ███ ██████ ███████ ███████████ █████ ██ █████ [redacted] and that’s basically how it works!
After that we find the troupe in the theatre classroom. The classroom is where we host the majority of student led events. One such event is Hanukchrisgiving! This is a party we throw in celebration of Hanukkah, Christmas, Thanksgiving, and whatever other holidays are being celebrated within the troupe around this time. This is also when we have our troupe bake off! Each thespian makes either a savory or sweet dish and our judges will rank them. This was a lot of fun and everyone enjoyed the good food being made by their classmates. I may be biased due to the fact that I won last year, so take that with a grain of salt. The classroom is home to numerous parties other than Hanukchrisgiving, the best of which is the annual Murder Mystery! Every year, troupe 3491 decides on a Murder Mystery storyline, then we all dress up and remain in character the entire night. Many members even start looking forward to the party at the beginning of the year! We also let Goathello join in on the Murder Mystery. “ Who’s Goathello?”, you may be asking. Well, Goathello is our mascot of course! He’s a tiny stuffed goat that we take on all of our field trips, whether to festivals or one act or anywhere else. He is also always fitted with the best apparel due to constant fabrication of new clothes for him out of scrap fabric. I feel I should also briefly mention that we also perform “senior directs'' in the little theater. This allows our seniors to experience directing and understand a portion of the process before they head off to college.
Now, we head outside the school entirely. This is where we do a lot of our volunteer work and events. One such event is “Trick or Treat So Kids Can Eat” or TOTS. We all dress up and walk around surrounding neighborhoods. We then ask for any canned goods or related items they would like to donate. Usually people take red wagons with them and try to fill the wagon to the brim before coming back to the front of the school. After everyone counts, we begin the Halloween party. This is usually filled with games, candy, and of course a costume competition. Similar rules to the Bake-off apply. Other than TOTS we also do different volunteer work such as working with the fireman to clean the vehicles. We also emcee welcome back events for teachers. This year we’re implementing a minimum large volunteer opportunity.
I’m so glad that over the past few paragraphs you’ve come to know the troupe that I hold close to my heart. My troupe keeps me going when things are rough and cheers me on for my successes. Thank you for reading about troupe 3491 and I hope you’ve come to appreciate all that they mean to me.