Originally created 03/11/01

Drama team eyes Scotland



Harlem High School Drama Coach Roy Lewis knows he'll have to sell a lot of donuts to get to Edinburgh, Scotland, but he's willing to do what it takes to bring international acclaim to his students' accomplishments.

Harlem High's drama department has been nominated by the American High School Theatre Festival to attend the Fringe Festival in Edinburgh in August 2002.

"It goes without saying that this is one of the highest levels we've achieved with this program," said Mr. Lewis, who's been teaching drama at Harlem for the past 19 years.

Mr. Lewis had to submit a 15-page application, which will be reviewed by a panel of judges from some of the country's major colleges and universities.

If accepted to the competition, Mr. Lewis would then decide what play to perform and would audition students for that show and the chance to travel abroad to perform the play. The school will learn its fate in April.

Harlem High junior Elizabeth Barron, who won several awards for her performance in a one-act-play, said she definitely plans to audition if the school has the opportunity to go to Scotland. The trip, she said, would be a great way to end her senior year.

"I was very excited," she said. "My parents have always promised me a trip overseas, so I think this would be a perfect opportunity. I love drama, and I think it would be great for our school."

If selected, Harlem High will be the only school to represent Georgia at the festival. It'll be an expensive venture: It's estimated to cost about $5,000 per student, with an average of 40 students.

On average, Harlem High's drama department performs four to six shows a year. This year, the one-act play The Miracle Worker won first place at the Georgia Theatre Conference in Valdosta on Oct. 20-21, along with the right to represent the state at the Southeastern Theatre Conference. Also at that competition, Elizabeth won best actress and the play won best set.

In the Region III AAA competition, which was Nov. 11 at Cross Creek High School in Augusta, the play won first place, Elizabeth won best actress , Haley Neal and Stephanie Keep were named all-star cast selections, and Bradley Akinsreceived recognition for best musician.

At the Georgia High School Association AAA competition Nov. 18 in Kennesaw, the play won second place. Stephanie walked away with an award for best actress.

The school will take the one-act play on the road to Jacksonville, Fla., Wednesday through Saturday for the Southeastern Theatre Conference.

"He's just fantastic," Harlem High Principal Barry Hemphill said of Mr. Lewis. "Every year I just marvel and think he can't do something better, but each year he just gets better and better."

Out of the 854 students registered at Harlem High, 292 are involved in the school's drama department.

"There's so much talent walking the halls of this school," Mr. Lewis said. "Sometimes what we have to do is go out and find it. We have kids who work very hard. Their talent may be raw, but it's honest."

Reach Melissa Hall at (706) 868-1222, Ext. 113.