Paly students participate in theater festival

Palo Alto High School theater is preparing for the California State Thespian Festival, and making plans for The One Act Showcase, the Youth Speaks Out exhibition will also open soon.

The California State Thespian Festival, hosted by Uplands High School in Southern California, which Paly theater participates in, will start on April 1 and continue through April 3. At the festival, students will perform in events such as duet scenes, monologues, group scenes, musical theater and even events for stage tech.

“Every year about 15 of us go to [The California State Thespian Festival] and compete,”
president of Thespian club and senior Sophie Swezey said. “Some here have done really well in the past. There are also ways to compete for tech so we have a lot of technicians that go and they do really well competing in stage management and lighting design.”

The festival concludes with a show that students work on for all three days of the festival, called allstate.

“Students put [allstate] together the three days they’re at festival,” Theater Program Director Kathleen Woods said. “They audition they choose tech they put the whole show together in that period of time, it’s an honor to be selected to participate in allstate.”

This year, junior Joelle Dong Heller serves on the board for the festival, and Swezey serves as president of the state board.

Paly theater is also preparing for auditions for the One Act Showcase, which is a short one act play prepared and performed by Paly students.

One Acts are meant to be more inclusive of the greater Paly population as they are shorter and easier to produce.

“The One Act Showcase is student produced and student directed, and usually there are about six short plays that are presented,” Woods said.

“This is an opportunity for students that don’t have the time for a big production to get involved. It’s also a great time for new students to get involved and get their feet wet.”

One Acts can be original creations or scenes from full length plays. They are generally between 10 and 20 minutes long, and each play has one or two student directors. Auditions for the One Acts will begin on March 21 and continue through March 23. All students who want to participate are encouraged to take part in the auditions. The final product will be performed in May.

Another upcoming event is Youth Speaks Out. This event allows students from Paly and Gunn to get their artwork displayed at the Palo Alto Art Center. The exhibition’s goal is to help students convey to adults the experience of being young is.

“The premise of youth speaks out is a show curated by young people, and the idea is to give young people a platform to say what you want your community to know,” photography teacher Margo Wixsom said.

The artwork will be displayed anonymously so that students may expresses themselves freely.

“You can speak very authentically, you can criticize, you can critique, you can really tell people the kind of things that would be hard to say if you put your name to it,” Wixsom said.

The exhibition will be held from March 18 through April 11. On March 25 the exhibition will host student artists who will perform pieces such as music, spoken word poetry and dance. Food will also be provided.

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