By Jenna Poppell
The Florida State Junior Thespian Festival is the largest junior thespian festival in the country and gives middle school theater students all around the United States the opportunity to work together. “In addition to competing, students have the opportunity to collaborate with other middle school students from a variety of backgrounds and share meaningful experiences within workshops, master classes, and shows,” said Brooke Molitor, Middle and Upper School theater teacher. In order to attend the festival, students qualified in multiple events at district festivals. These events included monologues, duet acting, solo musical, costume design, improvisation, and ensemble acting, amongst others.
At the festival, the students performed their events, participated in workshops, attended master classes given by professional actors and producers, and saw a variety of plays and musicals. This is an exceptional experience that middle school students can grow and improve from. Molitor explained that the festival is not a competition and the students do not compete with one another, but try to improve their individual scores instead. “No two actors are alike…therefore adjudicators are not comparing any two performances; they are evaluating each event on an individual basis,” she said. “I encourage my students to aim for a score that is higher than their score at the district festival; I want them to focus on improving and growing, instead of ‘beating’ their peer,” Molitor continued.
Oak Hall’s Middle School students have been participating in the Florida Junior Thespian Festivals for the past four years, when Molitor joined Oak Hall. Prior to that, the troupe participated in other junior thespian activities. “We have had an active Junior Thespian Troupe for several years, but only recently began competing at the state level,” explained Molitor. On Feb. 8, Oak Hall’s Junior Thespians performed at the festival again. Katelyn Berthy, an eighth grader and junior thespian, enjoys the freedom this program allows for her artistic abilities. “It gives me a space to be creative, and I get to sing which is something that I am very passionate about,” she said. This will be Berthy’s third year as part of the thespian troupe and has previously competed at two state competitions. She will be participating in a solo musical from, “Waiters” the musical, a duet with fellow eighth grade thespian, Grant Curtis, singing from “Thirteen” the musical, and a monologue from, “Have You Heard”. “My favorite part about Junior Thespians is getting advice from experienced peers and spending time with my favorite people,” said Berthy.