The Fullerton College Theatre Arts Department is hosting their High School Theatre Festival virtually for the first time Saturday, March 27.
This year’s event marks 40 years since Fullerton College first held its now annual festival. Students from dozens of Southern California schools come to participate in various acting and design competitions, improvisations and workshops.
Even though the event will be held strictly online, the festival will remain the same with minor adjustments to accommodate going virtual.
The event will consist of pre-submitted auditions evaluated and judged by faculty and staff, while a ceremony to hold workshops and announce results is being held March 27. Times for the workshops and ceremonies will be posted and updated March 9 on the festival website’s home page.
Few aspects of the event had to change in order to accommodate the new online format. Cutting event categories such as Tech Olympics and Comedy Sports was one adjustment made though they will both be reworked as workshops to compensate for their removal.
Festival coordinator Alex Eastman explained that the category cuts are for logistic reasons since improvisation can’t be submitted online ahead of time and some schools don’t have the available resources for the Tech Olympics category. The festival is hoping that the workshops can help fill that void.
The Theatre Department would typically showcase their spring production on the main stage for the high school students in attendance but due to COVID-19, it cannot be done this year.
Submissions for the musical category were also limited to solo submissions only.
Another notable change involves the board committee and judges usually made up of students. Eastman explained it gives students a chance to truly build the leadership skills to run and plan this event.
The department prides itself on having a student-run committee for the theatre festival. However, with no students on campus this year, they turned to faculty and staff to handle things.
In years past, judging was handled by around 200 judges during a two-day period. This year judging will strictly be managed by faculty and staff over the course of a three-week window before competition results are announced.
Eastman explained that moving online is a benefit for high school students this year, as all judges will be able to see all student’s work and provide detailed feedback.
Each year, Fullerton College strives to “empower students to be able to perform and encourage students how college theatre works,” as stated by Eastman. Although the festival has moved online, the Theatre Department continues to uphold these values.
Since switching to a virtual format this year, the festival has a current attendance count of 58 schools with only a few schools dropping out due to either busy scheduling for students or schools already having enough to handle online. In 2019 the festival had an attendance of 61 schools when the event was held in person.
Eastman is excited to welcome back high schools since the 2020 festival had to be canceled completely due to the coronavirus. He also hopes to welcome back high schools back on campus for next year’s festival.
Although changes have been made to accommodate for an isolated festival this year, Eastman recognizes the long hiatus has given Fullerton College an opportunity to “provide an outlet for some highschoolers this year” and is delighted to get back on track.
For more updates on the festival, visit their website where more updates will be posted within the coming weeks.