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The Pioneer Playmakers will host the Regional High School Play Festival this weekend at Watauga High School. This year's Playmakers troupe includes: (First row, from left) Rebekah Shoemake, Nick Younger, Annie Johnson, Lauren Lehr, (second row, from left) Lily Smith, Michael Navarro, Carrie Mae Sweeney, Justin Lynch, Emily Cheshier, Brian Greer, (third row, from left) Vance Langdon, Candace Parker, William Bushman, Gabby Godwin and Oisin Reed-Kelly. Photo submitted.

Originally published: 2012-10-29 17:17:21
Last modified: 2012-10-29 17:19:56

Playmakers to host regional play festival

by Staff Reports

Watauga High School will welcome more than 250 high school actors from 11 schools to the annual N.C. Theatre Conference Regional High School Play Festival on Friday and Saturday.

The honors acting class, the Pioneer Playmakers, along with more than 80 volunteers, will help run 14 one-act plays over the course of the two days. The entire festival is free and will run from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day in Ross Auditorium.

“The WHS Playmakers have participated in the festival since 1988, and we’re honored to have the opportunity to give back to NCTC by hosting this regional competition,” said director and drama teacher Sarah Miller.

NCTC is a statewide high school theater competition that allows more than 80 schools to produce more than 110 plays in two separate regional competitions. This weekend will be Watauga High School’s first time as a host.

“WHS is pleased and proud to support the arts by having NCTC on campus,” Principal Marshall Gasperson said. “We hope to have a large turnout from the community to support these young people and all their hard work.”

In the past 24 years, the Playmakers have been awarded close to two dozen Superior ratings from NCTC. The troupe has twice moved on to win the state championships, making the group one of the most successful drama departments in western North Carolina.

“We’re so pleased to have other schools come to our state-of-the-art facilities,” said drama teacher Greg Pope. “Technically, we are well-equipped to host this competition.”

The new high school opened in fall 2010, making Ross Auditorium one of the premier stages in this part of the state.

In this competition, schools have exactly 45 minutes to set up their play, perform it and move all sets, people and materials off the stage space. Shows will take place approximately every 75 minutes, with about 30 minutes between productions for judges, who are regional theatre professionals, to give the performers verbal critiques.

At the end of the festival, multiple awards are given out in such categories as Best Actor, Best Ensemble and a variety of technical awards.

“The Playmakers are really excited to see the end result of all our hard work and planning over the past few months,” said senior Playmaker Michael Navarro. “We hope the students from other high schools will enjoy being here, and we really look forward to performing our own play for other schools.”

WHS will perform their show, “Schuld,” an original script by the Playmakers, at 8:30 a.m. Saturday. “Schuld,” set concurrently in 1944 and 1964, explores the fallout from the coverup of a terrible accident in a small farming community in Nebraska during WWII.

“It’s a pretty serious play, and the students just do a phenomenal job bringing home the emotion of the WWII home front in 1944,” Miller said.

Prior to their weekend performance, the Playmakers will give a required preview performance at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Ross Auditorium. Admission to the preview is $5, with proceeds going to the drama department.

A number of local businesses have donated toward the festival.

“The Playmakers would like to thank all the businesses and community members who are supporting us in this endeavor,” Miller said.