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Virginia Thespian Festival: Tuscarora’s Thespians Take the Stage at VTF 2023


Once a year, all of Virginia’s most dedicated high school thespians gather in a celebration of their art form: theater. On Jan. 4, 25 of Tuscarora’s thespians (actors) and tech designers traveled to Capital One Hall in McLean, Virginia to participate in the Virginia Thespian Festival, or VTF. Students had the chance to experience educational workshops, have their work graded by judges, watch productions by other schools, earn college scholarships, and even audition for a musical at the state level. With the theme of “Find Your Light,” VTF was an empowering chance for Tuscarora’s thespians to learn and improve their skills. 

On Thursday Jan. 4, students got to hear from keynote speaker Jason Golstein, CEO and founder of Booktix, and sing with Lourds Lane, creator of the musical “SuperYou.” 

“My favorite part of VTF was when Lourds Lane was teaching her songs from SuperYou and started dancing on our table…she made us feel connected and interacted with us,” said junior Addison Zimmerman, a makeup artist for Tuscarora Performing Arts. 

Another highlight of the event was the array of one-acts being performed by schools from all over the state. Tuscarora senior Emma Marfia particularly enjoyed “Unexpected Tenderness” performed by Lafayette High School, saying “All the actors in the show were just so incredibly talented and really pulled me into the story.” 

At VTF, there was an array of different workshops throughout the day with professionals in their fields. These included workshops about monologues, dancing, playwriting, belting, directing, and even stage fighting. Savonah Thomas, a sophomore, attended the “Intro to Swordplay” workshop. “I learned how to properly use a sword, and it was fun!” Thomas exclaimed. 

The college and scholarship auditions were a great chance for seniors interested in pursuing theater as a career to build their futures and connect with colleges. Senior Rachael Giessman performed both a comedic and a dramatic monologue for the college representatives. 

“I personally like to start with my comedic monologues because I think it’s a fun way to begin the audition,” Giessman said. She was awarded scholarships from Rowan University, New York Dramatic Conservatory, and the New York Film Academy. “This has just been an exciting experience and has truly made me feel confident that I am able to pursue this as a career,” Giessman added. 

At VTF, students have the option to do a Thespy, which is the school theater equivalent of a Tony or an Oscar. Participants are scored on a variety of criteria, and those that earn the highest rating, Superior, are eligible to move on to the International Thespian Festival in June. Two of Tuscarora’s thespians earned this Superior ranking in their Musical Theater Performance Thespys: Ava Peach and Maggie Larson. Peach performed the song “Cute Boys With Short Haircuts” from Vanities, and Larson performed “I Know the Truth” from Aida. The Thespy was one of Larson’s favorite parts of the event. “Reading the judges notes afterwards really boosted my confidence and also helped with things I struggled with,” she said. 

This year, students were able to audition for the all-state musical, “A Chorus Line,” which will be performed at next year’s festival. Tuscarora students Kate Anderson, Peyton Gull, Sydney Nicklas and Alyce Snead were cast in the ensemble of the show. “I think it will be a great opportunity for acting experience and a great way to meet some new people,” Anderson said when asked how she felt about being cast. 

In addition to developing their technical skills in theater, students were able to strengthen their relationships and communication skills. “My favorite thing about VTF was definitely all the new people I met and talked with!” said Marfia. 

Anderson’s favorite part of the trip was “spending time with my friends and getting to know some of my other friends better.”

Putting on a show is not something that can be done alone. There are so many moving parts, and this teamwork creates tight bonds that last a lifetime. As Giessman says, “There is a sense of family, and it’s extremely empowering.” 

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About the Contributor
Sydney Nicklas, Staff Writer
Sydney is a sophomore at Tuscarora, and this is her first year as a staff writer for The Pack. Sydney is in choir and theater at THS and plays classical guitar. She also loves reading and her two dogs.

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