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Playmakers set stage for conference

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Article Published: Nov. 1, 2012 | Modified: Nov. 4, 2012
Playmakers set stage for conference

The 2012-13 Pioneer Playmakers include Rebekah Shoemake, Nick Younger, Annie Johnson, Lauren Lehr, Lily Smith, Michael Navarro, Carrie Mae Sweeney, Justin Lynch, Emily Cheshier, Brian Greer, Vance Langdon, Candace Parker, William Bushman, Gabby Godwin and Oisin Reed-Kelly.

Photo by Andrew Payne

NCTC is coming to WHS.

Watauga High School will welcome more than 250 high school actors from 11 different schools at the annual North Carolina Theatre Conference Regional High School Play Festival this Friday and Saturday, Nov. 2 and 3.

The high school’s 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 the high school’s Ross Auditorium.

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

NCTC is a statewide high school theater competition that allows 80-plus schools to produce more than 110 plays in two separate weekend regional competitions. This weekend will be WHS’s first time hosting one of the competitions.

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

Over the past 24 years, the Playmakers have been awarded close to two dozen Superior Ratings from NCTC, and, twice over the years, they have gone on to win state championships, making this 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,” drama teacher Greg Pope said. “Technically, we are well equipped to host this competition.”

The new WHS opened in the fall of 2010, making the new Ross Auditorium one of the premier stages in this part of the state, Pope said.

For the competition, schools have exactly 45 minutes to set up their play, perform it, and then 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 theater 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,” senior Playmaker Michael Navarro said. “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 themselves, at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 3.

“Schuld,” set concurrently in 1944 and 1964, explores the fallout from the cover-up of a terrible accident in a small farming community in Nebraska during World War II.

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

Prior to their weekend performance, the Playmakers will give a required preview performance on Thursday, Nov. 1, at 6:30 p.m. Admission to the preview is $5, with proceeds going to the drama department.

Watauga High School is located at 300 Go Pioneers Drive in Boone. For directions or more information, call (828) 264-2407.

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