Originally created 03/05/02

High-school thespians take Atlanta by storm



Students from 92 high schools attended the Georgia Thespian Conference held Jan. 31-Feb. 2 in Atlanta. Lakeside , Greenbrier, Evans, Harlem and Cross Creek high schools and Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School had students at the event.

Our Lakeside group left Jan. 31, at 3:30 p.m. - an hour and a half behind schedule, due to mechanical problems with the school bus. We had to get to downtown Atlanta by 6:30 p.m. to catch the Atlanta Shakespeare Company's production of Hamlet. We made the performance, which I enjoyed - although a few people in my group complained about every minute detail of the play.

After checking into our hotel, very few people went to bed. We were all restless and excited about the conference - there were workshops to take part in, plays to see and people to meet.

The next morning, many of the Columbia and Richmond county thespians had a small breakfast before heading to the Clayton County Performing Arts Center. Everyone who attended the conference saw the opening number before catching a selection of the plays that followed.

Before lunch, I took in Working, a musical about the everyday life of the average worker. After a picnic lunch with the other area schools, I saw Ordinary People, a typical "teen-age problem" play, and Jesus Christ Superstar, an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical about the last days of Jesus. I loved Superstar - it was flashy, the guys were cute, and the songs were interesting. It was my favorite show.

Next up was a production of The Hobbit. Having fallen in love with The Lord of the Rings trilogy, I was frustrated with this production. There were so many technical things the performers missed - the biggest was that the girl playing Gandalf was shorter than many of the dwarves. The actor playing Gollum followed the novel's portrayal and was one of the few things I liked about the performance.

Supper and workshops, which included singing and improvisation, were followed by Godspell. Many people in my group - who hadn't seen Jesus Christ Superstar - lauded Godspell endlessly. I thought it was average. The songs were nice, but something bothered me about the production, and it wasn't the message.

The next day brought productions of Lost in Yonkers and Of Mice and Men, with workshops between the shows. Lost in Yonkers was engaging, but Of Mice and Men seemed to drag on and on. I know it's a classic novel, but not all classic novels make for superb high school plays. The actors were fabulous, though the plot wasn't interesting.

After more workshops, we had the Individual Event Showcase and the closing number before heading home.

Bringing together all of those high-school thespians was a great chance to meet new people and explore new performances.

Teen board member Jessi Stephens, 17, is a junior at Lakeside High School.