Saturday, February 24, 2018

Hardin Thespian Troupe member Kelly Feller laughs at a story told by fellow member David Prather. After the serious performance of the play, the troupe enjoyed the opportunity to let off steam.

Hard work pays for Hardin troupe at International Thespian Festival

Editor’s note: Reporter Logan Jeno, who is also a senior at Hardin High School, was one of the local actors to attend the International Thespian Festival in Lincoln, Neb. from June 19-25. In this story, he reflects on the event.
A seemingly endless amount of fundraising, late-night practices and other preparations led our Hardin Thespian Troupe to the International Thespian Festival recently, where we performed in Lincoln, Neb. representing Montana.
After working since the beginning of the year, stepping onto the bus heading to Lincoln was compensation all its own; starting the trip seemed almost unreal. Breakfast, at the new Hardee’s restaurant, was provided to the troupe courtesy of my grandmother. Local resident Dennis Fox served as the bus driver.
Once on board, we faced a grueling day-and-a-half long bus ride to Lincoln. It wasn’t a straight shot, though, for we stopped at several historic locations, such as Ft. Laramie – a nineteenth century trading post – and Scott’s Bluff – an 800-foot landmark along the Oregon Trail. Back on the bus, most of us slept or listened to music.
When we arrived at the University of Nebraska, we were warned about security for the event. Because several thousand people were in attendance, security had to be strict. We needed to always travel in groups, carry our name cards and act respectfully, otherwise, we could get our cards taken away. If that happened, we would be forced to go home, some way or another.
Other than that, we were free for the most part. We could go to any workshop we pleased; and see other student plays, professional productions and even dances. I travelled with a few of the other guys in the troupe: Christian Zink, Tywayne Pretty on Top and David Prather. Prior to the trip, we had figured that it would be easier and safer to just stick together.
We took two workshops over the course of the week. The first was a bladed combat class, which consisted of learning attacks and blocks with a flexible fencing foil, and how to combine said moves. 
The other workshop was an English accent class; this one was quite entertaining. First, we learned the different pronunciations of words with the accent. Next, we played a game where one person stood in front of a screen that had a list of words, and a partner had to explain the word until the other person could guess it, all the while using an English accent.
There was a professional production every night, and when I say professional, I mean it. They were all high school students like us, but they were the best of the best.
Of the seven professional plays I saw, my favorite had to have been “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.” The beginning had a chorus acting as a church choir that made my hair stand on end.
We performed “Fighting Demons,” a drama regarding the challenges and struggles of modern high school students, on June 29 at 8 p.m. It was a tense moment for all of us. There were a couple hiccups – we had forgotten the ropes used to bind our hands in the play, and one of the flashlights used by the demons had died. Nonetheless, I believe our last performance was the best we had ever done. One could hear audible gasps and sniffling in the crowd. When we were finished, we received a standing ovation.
The days following the performance were a little less hectic than the days before. We didn’t have to worry about handing out flyers or rehearsing lines any more. My group and I even had time to visit a museum and art gallery on the campus.
But all good things must come to an end. By around 8:30 on Sunday morning, we had packed all of our things, and began the long way home. 
It wasn’t all sad, though. We have plans of going to the festival again next year, and even will begin fundraising at the beginning of the school year.