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.