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‘All the world’s a stage,’ and Northwest continues to steal it

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‘All the world’s a stage,’ and Northwest continues to steal it

Faith Rickerts, news editor

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“Northwest Guilford High School, are you ready?”

The indication is given, the timer is started and the blue lights come down to shine on the actors.

The show has started; it’s time for Northwest’s Make Believers to take the stage at the North Carolina Theater Conference High School Play Festival.

The NCTC Play Festival is a regional competition where over 3000 students represent 90 different schools by performing in 126 plays. It is currently the largest high school theatre event in the Southeast.

“High schools from all across North Carolina meet, and each of these schools can bring one or two plays,” senior Lindsey Mead said. “It [lasts for] two full days. For the first day it starts at six or seven in the morning and we get done at around five or six [in the evening], and then we have to drive home.”

The NCTC Play Festival was recently named one of the “Top High School Theatre Festivals” by Stage Directions Magazine and was the inspiration for nine other states around the country to create their own play festival.

“I really liked watching the other shows,” senior Kirsten Oxendine said. “A lot of the schools were really talented.”

The Northwest Make Believers sit in the auditorium with costumes in hand. The NCTC High School Play Festival lasts for two days, with eight shows per day.

The Northwest Make Believers sit in the auditorium with costumes in hand. The NCTC High School Play Festival lasts for two days, with eight shows per day.

The festival presents eight different shows a day with a lunch break and dinner break before awards are presented at the end of the second day. With the added time of the awards ceremony, the festival concludes at around nine or 10:00 at night.

“It’s a lot of time we put into it,” Mead said. “But it’s worth it. That’s the thing: it’s so rewarding to be able to tell a story to an audience. This is what I want to do for the rest of my life, so of course I’m going to put in the effort.”

The students involved in the award-winning production of 'Charlotte's Web' line up to take a photo following their performance. 'Charlotte's Web' received an overall rating of 'excellent.'

The students involved in the award-winning production of ‘Charlotte’s Web’ line up to take a photo following their performance. ‘Charlotte’s Web’ received an overall rating of ‘excellent.’

Northwest’s drama department collectively puts in at least two months’ worth of time to produce their award-winning plays. Their production of ‘Charlotte’s Web’ was presented the award of “Theater Arts Award—Excellence in Live Sound Effects,” and Carrie Graham received the “Barbizon Excellence in Design and Production—Set and Costume Construction.” ‘Charlotte’s Web’ received an overall rating of ‘excellent’ from the NCTC Board of Directors.

‘This Side of Heaven,’ Northwest’s other play that went to NCTC, has been in the works since January. It was originally intended to be put in a competition that March, but due to complications it was decided that it would be performed for this year’s NCTC Festival.

“We’re not really supposed to make predictions on how the voting [for the audience’s favorite play] is going to go, but I kind of knew that ‘This Side of Heaven’ was going to win at least something big,” Mead said.

Mead runs tech for ‘This Side of Heaven,’ and is in charge of taking props on stage. Because of this, she is able to stand in the wings and watch the audience’s reaction.

“I’ve never [seen] a reaction [to the props] before,” Mead said. “But the audience that we had, since they were so invested in it, when they saw the balloons on stage, they all went ‘aww.’”

Actors and other students running tech for the show started jumping up and down and hugging one another in the wings once they heard the crowd’s reaction.

“One thing our director always tells us is that she wants the judges to be so invested in the play that they forget to write notes,” Mead said.

‘This Side of Heaven’ was so emotionally moving that the judges had barely any notes to give to the actors. Northwest was able to enrapture the judges and the audience with their storytelling.

“I was really nervous [to perform] at first,” Oxendine said. “As soon as I stepped on stage, I could feel the nerves. But as soon as I was in it, I was in it, and I just lived in the moment and enjoyed it.”

At the end of the two days of competition, the audience gets to cast their vote on who they believe should continue on to the state-level competition along with the judges pick. This year, the judges chose a play from Sanderson High School, whereas the audience voted for ‘This Side of Heaven.’

“This is only the second time our department is going to states,” Mead said. “The first time, the judges picked our play to move on [to states]. The fact that, this year, it was our peers that chose us [to move on] was really, really cool.”

Student actors and tech managers are silhouetted against the setting sun to celebrate their victories at the NCTC Play Festival. Northwest brought two plays this year: 'Charlotte's Web,' and 'This Side of Heaven.'

Student actors and tech managers are silhouetted against the setting sun to celebrate their victories at the NCTC Play Festival. Northwest brought two plays this year: ‘Charlotte’s Web,’ and ‘This Side of Heaven.’

This Side of Heaven’ received the “Distinguished Play” award from the audience, and the lead actors received individual awards as well. Senior Nick Sherbine was awarded “Outstanding Achievement in Acting,” and senior Kirsten Oxendine was awarded “Excellence in Acting.” These awards are only given to two actors out of the entire competition.

“I was shocked,” Oxendine said. “I started tearing up, I was really happy about it. It was a good feeling. It felt like all of the work I had put into [the play] had paid off.”

Oxendine and Sherbine would meet once a week for forty-five minutes after school to rehearse in addition to all of the official after-school rehearsals they had attended earlier in the year.

“I really like performing and feeling like I’m good at something,” Oxendine said. “It’s my thing. It’s the one thing I’ve found that I’m good at, and I just really enjoy knowing that this is my thing.”

The Northwest Make Believers took their play ‘This Side of Heaven’ to the state competition Friday, Nov. 18. Although they did not move on, Oxendine and Sherbine were again awarded the Excellence in Acting and Outstanding Achievement in Male Acting, respectively.

They will continue to compete throughout the year with different plays.

 

 

Northwest’s complete awards won:

Charlotte’s Web – Rating: Excellent

This Side of Heaven – Rating: Superior

Festival Spirit Award

Theatre Arts Award – Excellence in Live Sound Effects – Charlotte’s Web

Barbizon Excellence in Design & Production – Set & Costume Construction – Carrie Graham – Charlotte’s Web

Excellence in Acting – Kirsten Oxendine – This Side of Heaven

Outstanding Achievement in Acting – Nick Sherbine – This Side of Heaven

Excellence in Directing – Abby Cockman & Noah McCormick – This Side of Heaven

Distinguished Play (Audience’s Vote) – This Side of Heaven

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‘All the world’s a stage,’ and Northwest continues to steal it