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Q&A with sophomores Luke Boyce, Hannah Sevening on Theater, competing at the Thespian State Conference

Sophomores+Luke+Boyce+and+Hannah+Sevening+rehearse+for+their+duo+musical+act+on+Jan.+17.+They+prepared+for+the+upcoming+Indiana+State+Thespians+Conference+on+Jan.+19-20.+%0A
Abigail Lee
Sophomores Luke Boyce and Hannah Sevening rehearse for their duo musical act on Jan. 17. They prepared for the upcoming Indiana State Thespians Conference on Jan. 19-20.

Sophomore Luke Boyce

What are the competitions that are included in the Thespian State Conference?

(Thespian State Conference), which lasts for three days, is sponsored by the National Theatre Education association. Every high school gets a chance to compete, where they submit a one act play which is 45 minutes long and schools go up against other schools to get awards. On the side there are also “mini” competitions which are called Thespies and those are where you can do monologues, scenes or songs. Usually you will stay two nights at the hosting school. This year it is Indiana Wesleyan University and it usually changes every year. 

Why did you decide to participate in this conference?

I thought it would be a fun experience to expand on my acting ability. Last year I didn’t do the play, but I went to see it and it was really good. And last year (CHS) didn’t place first, so this year I wanted to help us hopefully secure a victory.

How do you take part in these competitions?

For the play, which is called “Monster Calls,” they had auditions back in May and we have been rehearsing all year for it. There are usually about 10 to 12 people from the theater classes that are chosen to perform. But anyone else from the school can also come and do the side competitions. Sophomore Hannah Sevening and I are doing one of the Thespies together and we are in the category of duet musicals and we are singing a song on Saturday morning.

What is the process of preparing for the play?

We have been having rehearsals since July for this play and it’s usually held once a week. We have taken breaks for some of the busier performing arts seasons, like during Holiday Spectacular we didn’t have as many rehearsals, but we have just been blocking. It started out as an hour-and-a-half play, but we had to trim it down to 45 minutes to fit the requirements, so we have cut a lot of scenes to make it work.

What are some things you will be judged on during the play?

In the play, there are a couple different categories that you are being judged on, one of them being tech elements, so how our lighting looks, how our sets look and how our costumes look. There is also movement, so blocking and how people move around the stage, making sure everyone can be seen. Our play also has a little bit of dance routines involved in it. There is one for acting and the other one is called story selection, which is based on if we chose a good script which has a meaningful impact on the audience.

What is the play about and what is the meaning behind it?

Our play is called “Monster Calls” and it’s about this 12-year old boy named Connor O’Nally who is refusing the fact that his mom is dying from cancer. What happens is that he has an imaginary friend that is in the form of a tree in his backyard that comes alive as a monster and tells him all of these parables that help him cope with his grief, and it’s all about acceptance. This whole play is like a battle with the inner truth. The moral is that lying to yourself is not helpful, so sometimes you have to speak the truth even if it’s painful. 

What are some challenges that might come up during the play?

Some challenges for our play is that we do use ropes on our set and dance with them and we also build set pieces out of all the ropes and chairs we have, so it looks abstract. Sometimes the ropes get in the way or people trip on them and there are just a lot of moving parts that are going on stage. We just need to be aware and make sure that everyone is staying safe as we perform.

How do you participate in the side competition (Thespies)?

We have a theater club at CHS called Rising Stars. You go on the first day of December and you partner up with people who you want to work with. So I partnered up with Hannah Sevening, because we have been friends for a while. You sign up to do any of these events, there are monologues, which are like solo scenes, there are group scenes, solo songs, dance sections, lighting sections, costume sections, all different types of sections, and we sign up for one. After we sign up, practices are mostly independent. Hannah and I have met a couple times, outside of school, to work on our song and make sure it looks good for the show. Since it is not like “Monster Calls” there are definitely more practices on your own.

What song are you singing together and why did you choose it?

Me and Hannah are singing a song called “Friendship,” which is from the musical “Anything Goes” which was recently on Broadway in 2013. Since Hannah and I have been friends for a while, we just decided to because it’s a comedic song and it’s about two friends who are messing around and how much they value each other. Because the song is really fitted for us, it would be a strong piece to choose. 

Sophomores Hannah Sevening and Luke Boyce rehearse their act on Jan. 17. Boyce and Sevening were in the duo musical category. They prepared for the upcoming Indiana Thespians State Conference on Jan. 19-20. “We had a lot of fun rehearsing together,” Boyce said. (Abigail Lee)

Sophomore Hannah Sevening 

Do you have any prior experience that may help you with the competition?

I do. Like choreographic-wise, I used to take dance classes and now I am in show choir, so it gives me the extra ability to retain it. Vocally, I have also been taking voice lessons and doing stuff related to it ever since elementary school. So I have a lot of experience that built up to this moment. When I was younger I used to take tap, jazz and ballet classes. I didn’t continue because the organization was a little different then I wanted to do, but I have continued to take different clinics and stuff through Christian Youth Theater, which is now Pointe Theater. I have taken some things at different dance class studios, such as Interactive, and a bunch of different places.

How are you feeling about this competition?

I am really excited and I think that we have a good understanding of the song. I don’t know how good the other competitors will be, so I don’t know about placing. I just know that Sophomore Luke Boyce and I are going to do good.  

Do you think there are going to be any challenges during the song?

I feel that, given me not having any prior experience with the certain organization that is doing this, I don’t know what we are going to be judged on.  I don’t know the different scale levels of other people, so I am not completely sure how that’s going to play out. However, I do know that there are a ton of weird rules that they have, such as you can’t wear anything black. I remember that somebody in Rising Stars was almost disqualified because they had a Nike sign on their socks. There are definitely a bunch of different rules that can get in the way, but I’m hoping that none of them will go against it. 

Can you elaborate more on the rules ?

The competition very much hides the rules. When Luke and I were rehearsing, we had to make sure to check the website just to see the different rules and we discovered a red list, which is basically a list on a random website, of a bunch of songs that people are not allowed to do. It just so happened that a few people were preparing songs that were on the list, so they will not be able to compete.

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