Bridgeport High School Thespians Leave State Festival With a Plethora of Awards, Including Outstanding One-Act Performance
In perfect character for the ancient Greek tragedy “Medea,” student actors of Bridgeport High School Troupe 7549 quickly transformed their emotions into elation when the show was named Outstanding One-Act Performance at the West Virginia State Thespian Festival.
But that wasn’t the only honor bestowed upon BHS at the state festival, held March 16-18 at the Creative Arts Center at West Virginia University.
Jordan-Kennedy Rea was named Outstanding Lead Actress, Megan Rinker and Callia Byard made the All-Festival Cast, Bekah James was named Outstanding Musical Solo, Vincent Pinti received Outstanding Monologue and was invited to perform the monologue at this year’s Arts Alive event in Charleston, Haylee Hickman and Derek Hess earned second place in the Short Film competition and Noah Hall received first place in the Publicity division.
“I am so proud of this troupe,” said BHS Thespian Troupe Director Jared St. Martin Brown. “They are a hardworking group of creative young women and men. I am lucky to get to work with them.”
At the state festival,Brown was named West Virginia Teacher of the Year.
"My first response to receiving WV Theatre Teacher of the Year was that my students were going to be so proud of me. They often root for me just as much as I root them,” he said. “My second thought was that I really share this award with Albani, my wife, who has worked with me on every production and class trip.”
“Medea,” which features a predominantly female case, also received a special recognition called the “Nasty Woman Award.”
The BHS Thespians first performed the ancient Greek tragedy at Bridgeport High School in mid-February, thereafter taking the one-act show to the Region III Thespian Festival at North Marion High School where it claimed first place. At that time, Director Trina Byard applauded her cast, crew and design team.
“All our hard work paid off. We created a beautiful piece of art,” she said.
The first place award at regionals enabled the troupe to advance to the State Thespian Festival, which opened Thursday at WVU with welcoming remarks by WVU President E. Gordon Gee.
Brown said BHS has thought about doing a Greek tragedy for quite some time and because of this year’s predominantly female troupe, the time seemed right. The script utilized was adapted from the Greek play by Euripides, but adapted by a woman named Nelly E. Cuellar-Garcia.
“It’s a one-act version and she wanted to put a lot of things into the play about the life cycle of a woman – from youth to motherhood to old age – and to put all of Madea’s emotions into it - in the chorus,” he said. “So it’s a mini-faceted display of Medea’s inner feelings about where she stands in the world.”
In the title role of Medea is Jordan Kennedy Rae with Megan Rinker as Medea’s chorus leader and Izzy Hawkinberry as savage chorus leader. Erica Cottrill plays the role of Medea’s savage chorus leader No. 2 with Caroline Fulks, Demi Dipazza and Jordon Jones in the savage chorus. Callia Byard plays the nurse and Haylee Hickman plays Glauce. Bekah James is the Greek chorus maiden and Kady Hayes the Greek chorus leader/mother. Michaela Hutchinson plays the Greek chorus crone with Derek Hess as Jason, Dalton Colton as King Aegeus and Corey Stephens as the soldier. Vincent Pinti serves as assistant director, Haylee Hickman as percussion designer/sound designer and Michaela Hutchison as lead hair/makeup/costume mistress.
BHS Thespian Troupe President Noah Hall and Historian Douglas Soule do not appear in the show, but the veteran actors work with technical aspects. Hall serves as stage manager and Soule, along with Ethan Willis, serve as the production crew.
Overall, it’s been a very successful year for the Thespians. In fact, the past few have been exceptionally good, Brown said.
“One of the things that has made this group so successful the past couple of years have been my parent volunteers. Albani St. Martin Brown, Trina Byard (who directed our play) Anita Cottrill, Julie Rea, and Jon Pinti,” he said. “They raise money, drive students, chaperone at hotels, find food, solve problems and do everything it takes to make the program happen. They all helped both last year and this year. Parent involvement is key to any school program.”
The BHS Thespian Troupe did not apply to attend the 2017 International Thespian Festival in Lincoln, Nebraska. Notre Dame School Thespians, under the direction of Bridgeport's Jason Young, will advance to that festival, Brown said.
"They had an outstanding performance as well," he said.