The 2021 Virtual Thespian Festival for NHS Students
On January 16-18, 2021, the annual NJ Thespian Festival occurred virtually, where thespian troupes from the state came together to participate in numerous theatrical events. Along with these performance and technical presentations, opportunities were provided to take part in workshops and conferences with professionals in theatre. 17 students from Nutley High School participated in this event, via Zoom, by uploading personal performances for their judges.
Numerous benefits came out of the Thespian Festival being virtual for this year. One being, “more industry professionals and teaching artists were able to run workshops, since they didn't need to travel,” says Mr. Gurrieri, advisor of the NHS International Thespian Society. Alongside with this, keynote speakers were chosen to speak to the students participating in the Festival. Salana Qureshi, an NJ Thespian Alumni from Northern Burlington Regional High School was the keynote speaker, following State Senator Troy Singleton, who led the opening ceremony. Michael Lee Brown, an actor who played the role of Evan Hansen on Broadway, led the closing ceremony.
Students participated in distinct events, both individual and grouped, and performed auditions for scholarships towards universities. They were also informed and educated about different theatre programs. Community service opportunities were given to Thespians to make a change and help organizations, such as Broadway Cares and Equity Fights AIDS. The Thespys, a competing segment for the festival, promoted the International Thespian Festival, held in Indiana, for students to participate in a week-long festival.
The Thespian Society is continuing to plan out shows for the near future. After the virtual fall play, The Brothers Grimm Spectaculathon, there will be a continuing show, in late April. Mr. Gurrieri explains that it will be a, “song cycle this year, which is a smaller, more intimate kind of musical theatre, and will allow us to perform it either live or virtually, depending on the circumstances.” More information will be given out soon as the time gets closer.
The future shines bright for the International Thespian Society at Nutley High School. The virtual Thespian Festival was a success and opened many doors for those who participated. Those who are interested in drama/theatre and the Nutley High School Thespian Troupe may contact Mr. Gurreri, for, “we're always looking for new members!”