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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


High school actors invited to UA festival


Hundreds of high school students came to the UA campus on Saturday, dressed in a sleek, all-black wardrobe, ready to perform and share their love of theater with fellow colleagues of the community.

The School of Theatre, Film, and Television hosted its annual Southern Arizona Acting Festival, where dozens of high schools in the surrounding area were invited to take part in a variety of events that tested the students’ artistic and creative discipline.

“You experience a very different kind of acting,” said Cara Leverenz, a junior at University High School. Students were encouraged to take part in events that challenged their skills in performing monologues, duet-acting, pantomime, solo and ensemble musical numbers. Each student was individually evaluated by three judges who rated them on a scale of fair, good, excellent or superior. The judges were composed of volunteers with various types of theater background.

“It teaches you how to improve on a more professional level,” said Evan Cipra, a junior from Empire High School. Cipra was competing in one of the many technical events offered at the festival. Students had the opportunity to present a portfolio of sketches or models from previous productions and receive constructive feedback.

“It shows the kids that people actually care about their talents,” said Rachelle Fernandez, a theater education sophomore. Fernandez was the co-chair of the festival this year, and said she hoped that for high schools lacking funds, the Southern Arizona Acting Festival can serve as a hub for arts education where students can come together and learn about the importance of the performing arts.

“I treat SAAF like it’s a mock audition,” said Ellie Boyles, a senior from Canyon Del Oro High School. “I learn how to harness my nerves and use them to the best of my advantage.”

Boyles said she is planning on auditioning for both the Bachelor of Fine Arts musical theater and acting programs offered at the UA.

In addition to the individual events, each of the schools was encouraged to bring a short, one-act play to compete at the festival. This gave the students the chance to perform with their own ensemble and work with material that may not be as acceptable to their high school audience, such as “The Seussification of Romeo and Juliet.”

“We think we’re weird,” said Kelly Feild, a junior from University High School. “But SAAF is a place where everyone’s inner weirdness is not only accepted, but embraced.”

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