Class act: Theatre troupe advances 18 students to Nationals

In June, the National Championship for theatre will be held in Bloomington, Indiana. All 18 students from Bryan High who competed in qualifying will advance to the National Championship.

“It feels great to be advancing to the championship,” theatre director Jacob Justice said. “I’m not surprised that we advanced. We have students that are incredibly talented and that have great work ethic. It’s great when they get that recognition from other people that aren’t their teachers and so that they can see it, too.”

Senior Sarah Stuart is advancing to the finals for the second time, and has seen first-hand how difficult the competition can be. 

“You always have to make sure you’re consistent with everything you do and that nothing is off,” Sarah said. “Performing in front of a room full of people is a little nerve-wracking.”

Senior Evan Pope, who had a perfect score on his monologue performance, understands the importance of practicing and memorizing his performances. 

“I chose my pieces about a month out from competition,” Evan said, “I worked with Justice and Robert to memorize and work on characterization. A lot of the deep stuff was done on the way to competition”

Another performance that received a perfect score was the group’s Shakespeare performance, and Justice believes the group’s hard work has shown in their performances.

“All of our kids do really well with internal conflict, the stuff that’s on the inside and letting it come out in their performance,” Justice said. “They do really well with their vocal expression, and being heard and understood.”

Senior Trey Weltens sees how working on a piece that he is already familiar with gives a sense of confidence and makes the whole process a lot easier. 

“We had already performed the Shakespeare scene that I advanced with this year, so a lot of us were familiar with it,” Trey said. “We would meet together in class sometimes and go over the lines to keep it fresh in our minds.”

Justice also emphasizes the importance of getting down the essentials, and sees it as the glue that binds the whole performance together.

“One thing we say is, ‘it’s always about the basics,’” Justice said. “Whoever does the basics the best will shine the brightest. So no matter what, we keep working on the basics and in the end, it pays off.”

With all 18 students advancing, the group feels a  sense of confidence, and the group can sense that confidence in the atmosphere.

“Being able to move on to the next level as a team without leaving anyone behind is pretty amazing and allows us to feel more comfortable,” Trey said. “For the seniors, this national competition will be the last thing we do as a theatre troupe. It means a lot to be able to do this together.”

Evan understands that the competition will be the last thing he’ll do as a Viking, and hopes to relish the moment.

“It’s after graduation, and technically we’ll have already moved on to college or whatever life holds for us,” Evan said. “It’s a last hurrah for theatre, so that’s an exciting thing for the seniors.”

Justice has seen his students work towards the ultimate goal of advancing to the championship and hopes to begin preparing for the championship soon. 

“They all came together and worked hard. I think our students do a great job of pushing forward,” Justice said. “Since I’ve been here, we’ve had some victories, we’ve had some defeats. But we keep pushing forward and getting better and learning. And each time we go out, it seems like we keep getting better.”