Stage set for young theater students

Michael Stockinger

High school theater students will take over the Sacramento State campus this weekend, performing plays, scenes, monologues and songs for one of the largest high school theater festivals in the nation.

The 50th anniversary of the Lenaea Festival begins Friday and ends Sunday. The festival, which takes its name from the ancient Greek festival, invites schools throughout California to perform monologues, duo scenes, one act plays and new for this year: musical theater.

“There are 63 schools that have registered this year,” the executive director of the festival Scott Adams said. “Some schools have come from as far south as Bakersfield; we have a number of schools coming from the Bay Area, and one coming from Oregon.”

The festival began as a way to support and encourage high school students with an interest in theater.

Students may perform acts from other musicals and plays, or their own original scenes in front judges who will score the performances.

There are sets of judges to judge for each category. This year, there will be 16 original one act plays. Out of the 125 two person scenes, 13 are originals. Then, of the 212 monologues, 31 are also originals.

The judges for the performances are both theater professors and professionals in theater who have volunteered their time to partake in the festival.

“We have a whole series of theater professionals from the community, some represent local university professors and others are Northern California theater professionals,” Adams said.Performers will be scored on the actors’ understanding of the piece, voice and diction, pace and rhythm, movement and pressure, ensemble and total effect.

“The actors must show that they understand the environment and world of the scene that they perform,” Adams said.

Awards will include the best of each category, the most improved for two person scenes, monologues, and musical theater; original script awards for two person scenes, monologues and one act plays.

“Each participant will receive a certificate of participation in the festival and what their scores are,” Adams said. “There will be an awards ceremony on Sunday where medals, plaques and trophies will be given out for different categories.”

These judges also offer workshops to the participants in order to sharpen their acting skills and to improve their own original plays.

Workshops being offered throughout the weekend include: playwriting, acting for musical theater, audition techniques and Broadway dance.

“We are offering 10 workshops this year,” Adams said.

The workshops will give the performers the chance to improve their pieces and to re-perform on Sunday for a chance to receive the most improved award.

“Only those who perform monologues, two person scenes and musical theater may perform again, since there isn’t enough time for one act scenes,” Adams said.

The festival will be held in the University Theatre, Playwrights’ Theatre, Studio Theatre and in other buildings beginning Friday morning and ending Sunday night.

Tickets are $5 for a day pass and $10 for a weekend pass.

Michael Stockinger can be reached at [email protected]