The Fullerton College High School Theatre Festival returned online Saturday, giving viewers a glimpse into the theater department with workshops and celebrating the high school students who excelled in performance and design.
The previous festival held on campus in 2019 saw 62 schools and 1,601 students in attendance. High school students and teachers alike attended this year’s Q&A session and workshops, and over 100 watched the awards ceremony live on YouTube.
Last year’s festival was canceled because of the school’s closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Even though this year’s event was held virtually, the department still received the same amount of entries and attendees as if the festival were to be held in person.
High school students from all across Southern California submitted their talents under 13 performance and design categories to the theatre festival website. Categories included makeup design, lighting design, dramatic or humorous classical ensemble and musical theatre, the star of the show.
The day started with a Q&A session where faculty speakers took the opportunity to speak of their respective theater programs at Fullerton College.
Erica Jackson, a former charge scenic artist at Fullerton College, appeared at the festival with her Paint Like a Pro workshop, giving students tips on how to paint sets. She showed examples of different woodgrains and some techniques to use with tools to achieve the look of wood. She even shared her go-to method on how to clean brushes.
Theatre Operations Coordinator Adam Critchlow and Theatre Technician Victor Amaya went mobile in their Lighting, Audio and Projection integration and control workshop to give students a tour of the technical side of Fullerton College’s productions. Critchlow showed students around the scene shop, demonstrating different tools and programs used to bring the magic to each production while Amaya gave the behind-the-scenes of the audio and lighting set up.
“I graduated with my A.A. from here. I don’t have a B.A. I don’t have a master’s in design or anything.” Amaya said. “I got involved with whatever I could and I learned on the job.”
Intro to Vectorworks was hosted by Kevin Clowes, who teaches production and design classes, and former Fullerton College student and current theater production manager, Zachary Harless. They gave a quick tutorial for Vectorworks, describing it as the new industry standard in production design as opposed to traditional pencil sketches.
“The big point of our program is that it’s really student-led,” Harless, said. “I realized when I went off to look at universities, I had a leg up beyond anybody else I was dealing with, and a bigger resume coming out of Fullerton College than most people had coming out of their masters.”
Creative Costume Design hosted by JoJo Siu, a design instructor, and Bronwen Burton, the costume shop manager, featured a slideshow presentation laying out some of the different certificates offered in their building-heavy program at Fullerton College. They exhibited the teamwork of a designer and draper/cutter duo by bringing a design sketch to life in real-time.
By far the most popular and interactive workshop was Improv 101 by actor Brandon Burns where he immediately began directing students to perform comedic improv scenes. Not only did Burns himself give constructive feedback, but he encouraged the audience to do the same.
“Some schools that probably wouldn’t be able to attend if it was in person, really highlights to us the fact that accessibility is going to be more of a mission moving forward,” theatre department professor Michael Mueller said in an interview. “Providing opportunities for students and schools that might not be able to travel or have the time and can still be part of the process”
Watch Fullerton College Theatre Arts High School Theatre Festival Awards 2021 on YouTube for a recap of the winning pieces and to watch the performance of “Hear My Song” from “Songs for a New World” by the Fullerton College Music Theater Ensemble.