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Fierce Competition

By Kristi Good

From October 27 to October 30, I spent the weekend in Reston, Virginia as a guest of the Virginia Theatre Association. I was asked to be a judge for their Secondary School Theatre Competition through some contacts I had made at a workshop over the summer. High schools from all over Virginia came to compete with short pieces in the hopes of being sent on to the next level of competition at the Southeastern Theatre Conference (SETC), which will be held in Chattanooga, Tennessee in March 2012.

The students had two minutes to load in their set pieces and forty-five minutes to perform their show and remove everything from the space. Going over time meant they were disqualified from the competition. I must say that I was highly impressed with the level of efficiency these student groups displayed and the seriousness with which they handled their tasks. On Friday, I saw eleven plays and on Saturday, nine. My group of plays wasn’t the only one, though—another room and set of judges also saw twenty plays!

Judging was difficult—I wanted to keep in mind that these were young students and give them feedback that would be critical, but ultimately constructive. Some productions showed a lot of promise and others were, well, they were high school productions. In the end, the judges nominated four plays to present for a second time, and from that we chose two winners to represent Virginia at SETC. It wasn’t a terribly difficult decision in the end. Two productions were head and shoulders above the competition. Turner Ashby High School garnered first place with their (student directed!) production of “Anatomy of Gray,” by Jim Leonard. Second place went to Stafford High School’s production of “A Fable,” by Jean-Claude van Itallie. While “A Fable” was a technically impressive work that would have given most graduate theatre productions a run for their money, “Anatomy of Gray” blended theatrical innovation with amazing soul and heart. Keep your eyes open at SETC for these amazing productions!

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Kristi Good is a second-year PhD student hailing from Philadelphia, where she earned her MA in Theatre from Villanova University.  Prior to moving to Pittsburgh, Kristi worked as a professional actor and dramaturg and served as Artistic Director of Vanity House Theatre, which she co-founded in 2006.