Six members of Knightdale High School’s International Thespian Society put on a convincing act at the state-level ITS festival in Greensboro in March.
Their pruned version of Rich Orloff’s “Vietnam 101: The War on Campus,” pointing out ongoing struggles with social injustice, brought home the critics’ choice award and the award for best overall group acting. Those feats made Knightdale the only group out of 36 in the state to earn an invite to the weeklong national ITS festival.
“It’s not bad getting to say you’re a state theater champion,” said Chris Cates, a junior at KHS and president of ITS Troupe 7149. “We projected really loud. The judges could feel our emotions. That really sets us apart because people can feel that. It feels good because we can see people jump.”
Town leaders recognized Cates and fellow student-actors Tatyana Williams, Lilah El-Halabi, Allison Manning, Miriam Harb and Kiara Bush on April 3. They also saluted Knightdale High teacher Ken Whisler, who has filled in leading the theater department with Nichole Gibbs on maternity leave.
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“This is a prime example of what the ending results can be when you’re working with such wonderful and gifted students,” Mayor James Roberson said at the town council meeting.
The Knightdale troupe is now looking forward to staying on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln campus for the International Thespian Festival.
The June 19-24 event, organized by the Educational Theatre Association, will showcase high-schoolers on four stages and offer a variety of student-acting resources, including scholarship opportunities.
“I’m really excited about it,” Cates said. “If I get to go, I get to interview with over 50 of the top arts colleges in the nation.”
Cates’ uncertainty stems from the $10,000 cost of airfare, lodging and registration for six students and two adults to attend the national event. They need to secure the money by the May 1 registration deadline.
The group has set up a crowd funding page, where it is asking for half of the needed amount.
“We don’t want to set the (crowd funding goal) at the whole amount,” Cates said. “We’re hoping to get close and expecting to pay some out of pocket.”
Knightdale High staff members agreed to take pies to the face on April 11 in exchange for donations for the trip. Another round of the good-cause humiliation is set for April 27.
As of last week, Cates said, the group had raised about $740.
Aaron Moody: 919-829-4528, @Aaron_Moody1