Saturday, February 24, 2018

Troupe Director Darren Means takes a photo of Hardin High School’s resident thespians following their victory in Missoula. From the left: Reina Ramirez, Darren Means, Morgan Wolfe, Kelley Feller, Kirstin Dorn, Isabella Old Elk, David Prather, Morgan Herman, Shea Esp, Tywayne Pretty on Top, Tyler Wolf, Christian Zink, Shelby Uffelman, Logan Jeno, Kana Cachora, Jonnie Pitsch, Kayjah Twinn and Kayden Holds the Enemy.Members of Hardin High School’s Thespian Troupe perform “Fighting Demons” on Feb. 1 for a local audience at the middle school auditorium. Pictured from back to front – and playing characters fighting figurative demons – are David Prather, Morgan Herman and Logan Jeno.

More than an act

Hardin Troupe set to represent Montana in International Thespian Festival
Hard work by Hardin High School’s Thespian Troupe finally paid off on Feb. 3 when they received a standing ovation after their performance in Missoula at the Montana State Thespian Festival. The Hardin Troupe is now qualified to represent Montana at the International Thespian Festival in Lincoln, Neb. The high school has had a Thespian Troupe since 1996, and this is the first time they’ve been selected for Internationals.
Their winning play, “Fighting Demons,” addresses problems sometimes faced by those in school including bullying, parental strife and drug abuse. The play, picked by students, uses music, background video and figurative demons, which helped it also win a certificate of recognition for “Outstanding Creative Design.”
Seventeen students will be making the trip along with Troupe Director Darren Means, who has been the coach for the Hardin Troupe since 2013. 
“I think (being selected for Internationals) has given them all a level of self-confidence,” Means said. “I think they all knew they could do it, but didn’t think they did until the announcement came.”
Troupe President Kirstin Dorn, a member of the Drama Club for three years, shares the same views. 
“Acting has a lot of life skills that you can use,” she said. “It really puts you out there. It makes you more outgoing, and teaches you how to talk to people.”
The Montana State Thespian Festival is a two-day venture. Performances are scheduled throughout the first day, followed by a banquet and a professional production of a play in the evening. This year, a romantic comedy about the trials of a newlywed couple, called “Barefoot through the Park,” will be presented.
The first part of the second day begins with plays then, after lunch, two hour-long workshops. These workshops can cover anything from building props, refining your acting or learning how to stage fight. After the workshops, competitors enter the “Thespian Olympics,” where they see who can perform the best tongue twister, and who can create the best death scene. After that, the awards begin.
The International Thespian Festival is a week-long event that takes place from June 19-24. Here, thousands of high school students are brought together to share all things theatre. Workshops are given featuring by theatre professionals and feature performances for both the individual and the group, and even auditions to colleges for those who want to get serious about acting.
The Hardin Troupe will be organizing several fundraisers for their trip. They are planning on hosting several more productions in the community around mid-April, and there is hope for performing the play in Billings as well. 
A silent auction is planned in Hardin High School. Means has also set up a GoFundMe page, a website where groups and projects can receive funding online. Their current goal is set at $10,000.