We Help Two… and so should you!
There’s not a person in this world who doesn’t appreciate funky socks. Okay, that might be an overstatement, but it’s definitely true whenever you’re at Festival! But here at Festival, we like to go above and beyond by simply buying all sorts of crazy footwear. We also like to help the communities around us. And luckily, we’ve recently partnered with a wonderful organization with the very same idea. You know ‘em, you love ‘em. The amazing company, We Help Two! *applause* To quote them directly, “We Help Two was founded on the belief that fundraising can be done in a way that benefits two causes. By hosting a funky sock fundraiser through We Help Two, organizations not only raise funds for their cause but also impact their local community through our sock donation program to local homeless shelters.” Texas Thespians are so happy to be able to support We Help Two!
We would like to also like to introduce you to the amazing people at Sock Out Poverty! This company, founded by the amazing Princess Jackson, is dedicated to providing socks for the less fortunate. We will be focusing our efforts in support of the efforts of Sock Out Poverty and their work in the great city of Houston while in San Antonio.
We encourage you to find their booth at Festival and go grab yourselves some amazing socks both for you and for the people of Houston! The We Help Two booth will sadly only be available at Grapevine, but keep in mind that if you still feel passionate about socks, you can visit the We Help Two website. You can also donate socks or money to Sock Out Poverty.
Thank you again to Sock Out Poverty and We Help Two for collaborating with us at Festival! And thank you to all of you amazing Thespians. We can’t wait to see all of you later this month and Break a Leg to everyone who is competing or auditioning! Until next time~
-STO Ezekiel Payne
Questions about Leadership Academy
Hello, fellow thespians! I am deep into rehearsals for our fall show. If you are like me, September and October are busy months for both theatre and academics! Saying that this is going to be a quick ride, so keep your seatbelts on and we’ll be done in no time. This blog post is all about what to do if you have questions about the leadership academy.
You probably have at least a few questions about the leadership academy. Currently, information regarding the details of the upcoming leadership academy is still being pushed out. It’s likely that information, when given, will answer many of your questions. For now, make sure you are current on the information that has been released. This information can be found on the leadership academy google classroom and/or the website- so check both.
If you still have questions, send them to: Michelle.nguyen@texasthespians or
Your questions will be answered as soon as possible. If you don’t get a response quickly, know that we are going to answer it!
Your dedication and desire to be a part of and promote theatre in our schools and communities is so valuable. As we push more into this busy season, remind yourself that the time and effort you are putting into theatre is worth it. You are growing as a thespian and a leader, and you are making a difference in the world, just by doing what you love.
We can't wait to hear about all the wonderful things you are doing with Leadership Academy!
-STO Zeke and the rest of your STO's
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.
By: STO Ezekiel Payne, Belton High School, Troupe 3491
The STO's are so excited for the Leadership Academy! We decided that today we're going to explain the reasons why we're so excited to share this opportunity with you!
Leadership is a crucial foundation in almost everything we do as thespians. With leadership, we can build troupes up! We can help establish good leadership skills for everyone in the troupe, not just officers or directors. There are leadership skills that create an environment dedicated to success and growth. These skills mainly include how to make connections, smart use of social media, proper etiquette for outreach, and how to be a leader that inspires their peers, not one that derogates them. These skills and more can be learned through a variety of ways, but the most surefire and trusted way is through the Texas Thespians: Leadership Academy. Before we go more into this amazing opportunity, I’d like to explain why these attributes you can acquire there are valuable to you and your troupe.
The aforementioned skill dubbed "connections" is crucial to leadership in anything, thespian troupes notwithstanding. The ability to gain connections can allow a leader such as yourself to gain trusting relations on all levels. A good troupe leader can connect on a class/troupe, school, and community level. These connections allow an aura of respect and support to ebb and flow throughout all your troupe’s ventures. A thespian who is skillful in connections can be seen initiating conversations and being open to communication. Aspects such as those will help project your troupe to new heights discovering whole new avenues for connections.
Another increment of a good leader, especially for a thespian troupe, is one who understands smart and responsible use of social media. Social media, whether digital or physical, are not to be scoffed at. Almost every company, theater, celebrity, etc. we take seriously has some form of social media. So, if you want to increase your troupe's professionalism, organization, and publicity, this is a stellar way to do it. Good social media can range from bulletin boards to facebook to TikTok accounts. Proper use of these examples, and many more, can push a troupe from good to great. Social media informs the public as well as company members and, as we all know, communication is key.
Something else a great leader should always have under their belt is an understanding of outreach. You may be asking: what exactly do you mean by “outreach”. Well, curious Thespian, outreach is a variety of things. From reaching your communities to promote your shows to interacting with nearby non-profit work and volunteer opportunities. It can be work that garters recognition of the importance of theatre in our schools. It can be fundraisers that produce income to fund the department. Outreach comes in many forms, but nonetheless, is a crucial element of a theatre troupe and thus crucial for a good leader to comprehend and instill within their department.
The last thing all great leaders should put in their tool belt is knowing the proper way to lead people. Understanding the difference between bringing your peers up through your leadership or putting them down. A leader that understands this develops a positive relationship with their trust where things can get done, not because they are afraid of the leader, but simply because they respect and like the leader. This work environment is monumentally better than the toxic one born from looking down on your peers. There are many aspects of this learning; figuring out what are beneficial qualities to acquire and what are bad ones to be rid of.
These skills take time to learn and understand. Luckily, Texas Thespians is there for you and your troupe! We will be hosting leadership days on specific dates throughout the summer as part of our leadership academy, including today! (if you’re reading this the day it’s posted) These classes are going to teach troupes from around the state the skills listed in this blog and much more! This opportunity can grant you and your troupe the knowledge you need of how to extend beyond what you are now. To excel. We would love to see you there! You can find any more information you may need on this occasion right here on the Texas thespians website!
We can’t wait to see you there,
Your 2022 Texas State Thespian Officers
Elements of Theatrical Design
By: STO Marisa Berrones, Midland High School, Troupe 3376
The STOs would love to say congratulations to all of the State Theatrical Design finalists. After so many amazing designs at State, it only makes sense to cover the elements that go into theatrical design!
When thinking about theatrical design, costuming is likely at the forefront of your mind. The show's actors come onto the stage and your eyes are drawn to the beautiful colors of the makeup, hair, and costumes. When watching the show you might not be thinking about everything that goes into costume design, but behind the scenes there are hours of work dedicated to making a show look the way it does. For example, when my company did The Beggar’s Opera it was a three-day process of getting ready. For a Saturday performance hair would be put into sponge rollers on Thursday, kept in all of Friday, and then brushed, teased, and lastly Got-2-B Glue-d for two hours on Saturday. If that wasn't enough, we also had to paint on tooth rot, put on layers and layers of petticoats, and cover everything in dirt. The getting ready part of a show can only happen after a color palette, styles, and scheme have been decided on.
Set design is another one of the first things you'll notice about a show's theatrical design. Whether it's at a fall performance or an OAP 7-Minute Set-Up, the set is there before any of the actors even are. While it may seem like a set can go up in minutes it takes weeks of construction and planning for a set design to be finished.
While what goes into making a show look fantastic is incredibly important! What would a show be without its audience? The best way to gain an audience for your show is to Market it, but the hard truth is, if marketing is not aesthetically appealing then it will not do its intended job. The marketing of a show typically will follow the same color palette and textures chosen for the costume design. It will include notable symbols from the show like the badger on the Puffs poster. Another way to market your show is by handing out little nick-knacks similar to items in your show. For example, when my school did Puffs in the fall we sold buttons similar to the ones that Cedric wore and felt badger flags to pass out at our homecoming parade!
With a now expanded knowledge of what the elements of theatrical design are you too can participate in your own company or even UIL Theatrical Design!
Your 2022 Texas State Thespian Officers
By: STO Folarin Oyeleye, Foster High School, Troupe 7961
Today we travel overseas, so that we may familiarize ourselves with the elegance behind Japan's rich history in the theatre. There are three forms of traditional Japanese theatre: Kabuki, Noh, and Bunraku. However, today we’re only going to focus on the kabuki. So, I hope you’re comfortable before we jump back into Japan’s Edo period.
During the late 16th century when Japan's warring period had begun to die down, people sought new ways to entertain themselves. This then gave birth to a certain style of dance known as the kabuki- odori. A woman known as Okuni bore costumes and surreal movements from the kabukimono to perform surreal acts for her audience.
This would then lead to the popularization of this theatrical style. As time went on they incorporated instruments such as the shamisen (A three- stringed guitar that gained popularity throughout the region of Tokyo). Even the stages grew to be elaborate, as they’re littered with trap doors and revolving sets to add to the dramatics.
This all adds to the resources they can use to tell their stories. With famous works such as: Yoshitsune Senbon Zakura, Benten Kozo, and Yotsuya Kaidan being notable for how the theatre can focus on historical tales, love stories, or tragedies.
If reading so far has made you interested in visiting one of these plays then some spots of interest to visit would be the kabuki- za theatre in Tokyo or the Kyōto Shijo Minami- za in Kyoto. However, make sure you're ready for the long haul. Although kabuki plays like to focus on the most important parts of a story, these plays usually have about five acts. The Jo is the slow beginning. The Ha is acts 2-4 with a tragedy often occurring in the 3rd act. And the Kyu is the conclusion.
I hope this has been as enlightening for you guy's as it was for me as I got to research this. As always, if you're interested in this topic feel free to do some research of your own and share some fun facts with us in the comments!
Till next time,
Your 2021 Texas State Thespian Officers
Congratulations State Qualifiers!
By: STO Gentry Phillips, Springtown High School, Troupe 1494
I think it is safe to say that this UIL season has been jam packed with eventful and impactful shows! All across Texas for the past semester, students like you and me have been working tirelessly to put on these excellent productions, and have achieved many great things for our communities. Each STO would like to congratulate every thespian who participated in this UIL season on making such great art and devoting yourself to your craft. Thank you for putting on such great theatre!
On a similar note, congratulations to all our state qualifiers! Your work definelity does not go unnoticed, and we appreciate each and every single cast member, crew member, administrator, and director who has put so much time and effort into these shows. Break a leg at state and represent Texas proud!
If your show did not advance to state, never fret! The fact that you were able to put on a show and impact those around you in the first place is a feat in itself, and something to be very proud of! All art is excellent art if it makes you think, brings awareness to a topic, or reaches out to someone who needs it. UIL is a competition, but is also a celebration! Let's celebrate each other and the excellent community of artists we are a part of!
With so much love,
Your 2021 Texas State Thespian Officers
What Theatre Has Taught Us
By: STO Gentry Phillips, Springtown High School, Troupe 1494
I don’t know about you guys, but I love, love, love being sentimental! I think it is so nice and important to look back on an event or a time in our life that may have changed us into the people we are today. This is especially true with theatre! Theatre is one of the best ways to make valuable memories in high school, and it provides us with a lot more than just learning theatrical skills. Theatre is at its core about learning about yourself, the world you live in, and maintaining the skills to go and make your community a better place.
Theatre teaches us to communicate! By working in companies with so many diverse individuals, you learn a lot about how to formulate one creation using many ideas. Communication in theatre allows not only for you to make excellent art, but makes way to give praise and express yourself in whatever way you see fit. Communication lets you and others be heard, whether you’re speaking for a cause or just giving your opinion. Communication paves the way for students like all of us to solve real world problems past graduation and makes it so that we are all prepared for what is next after high school.
Theatre teaches individuality and self thinking! How boring this planet would be if we all thought the same thing, or all looked the exact same way! By being in theatre we have learned to express ourselves, and are not afraid to show who we are. Theatre has given us pride in being different! Also, theatre has proved a safe and fun community to celebrate all those differences in, and to share our unique talents and experiences with each other.
Theatre teaches kindness, compassion, and positive attitudes. By being in theatre we have been exposed to so many different types of people, lifestyles, world events, and cultures. Regardless if we have seen these things first hand, or only through a show, we know that it’s real and are now able to reach out our hands and say “I’m here for you” or “I love you”. Being in theatre makes it so that the world is a little brighter for ourselves, and gives us the opportunity to make the world better for others.
I could go on and on for pages about all the wonderful things that we have gained from theatre. It is something truly spectacular to be a part of. So, why not share it? Encourage your friends to audition for a show next year, or to attend an acting summer camp with you. Join a community theatre over the summer with a friend or group and have the time of your life! Share these experiences with someone you love, reach out a hand, you never know how bad they might need it.
Much love and keep learning!
Your 2021 Texas State Thespian Officers
Amy Jordan, Chapter Director
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Denison Texas 75021
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