Texas Thespian Festival turns virtual

Every year, theatre students across Texas gather to take part in workshops in which they learn more about theatre and college as it relates to the performing arts field, as well as to compete in competitions of marketing, duets, monologues, set design and stage management with eyes toward advancing to national competitions or earning scholarships. Normally, the Thespian Festival is held as an annual, in-person event. However, due to the pandemic, the festival is completely virtual this year

Students have had to overcome new challenges that arise due to the adaptation of a virtual setting rather than in-person.

“It has been quite hard and overwhelming during this pandemic…I felt like there would be connection problems with recording my script with my partner, but fortunately there wasn’t,” senior Ifedayo Akeredolu said.

Akeredolu, like many others, was concerned that her performance would be affected by the unpredictability of the internet. Not only were connection issues a main concern, but also the quality of their submission and being able to have one-on-one help with their director. For those participating in a duet competition, not being able to meet in person with their partner to practice the script made for an unconventional way to perform a duet. The lack of the physical presence of their partner made it increasingly difficult to rehearse the script. The quality of the performances typically only deal with student skills, but this year it is also dependent on whether the technology at their disposal allows them to create a good quality video or audio recording.

Another disadvantage of the festival being virtual was that new participants didn’t get to experience the excitement of attending the event and interacting with fellow thespians.

“Usually we go to Galore Hotel in Dallas, so we’re used to going on a bus ride and then going to this big hotel with a whole bunch of different events going on the excitement…[first-time participants missed out on] actually being there and connecting with people and actually having that experience,” senior Maysun Woodyard said.

Although the adoption of a virtual festival came with its downsides, it also provided students with some advantages.

“There was a bit of disappointment, but they still made up for it because they have a whole website platform where we get to look at all the college booths and still go to all the workshops we want to it’s actually easier to go to the workshops because we had difficulty finding where the workshops were cause it was such a big hotel,” Woodyard said.

In spite of the virtual format for the Thespian Festival this year, the organization was still successful in reaching out to hundreds of students across the state who are interested in theatre and pursuing a career in the performing arts field. Even though they missed out on performing in front of an audience, they will still get a chance to showcase their performance in a live virtual event.

The showcase will be hosted via YouTube Premiere at 7 p.m. December 3, 2020. Audience members are encouraged to interact with the actors and technicians during the performance.