Theatre department performs in festival fringe

Both actors and technicians embarked on a two week trip to parts of Europe this summer.

The cast performing on a street stage on The Royal Mile in Edinburgh.

Joshua Short, Managing Editor

Selected as one of the most outstanding American high school theatre programs by the American Performing Arts Institute, for roughly two weeks over the summer, the theatre program travelled to England and Scotland for the world’s largest arts festival, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

“It was my second time directing a show at the Fringe. Ms. Crouse, who once taught technical theater here, and I took a group of WF-R students in 2005. It is a big honor and a world class experience,” Drama Teacher Anna Jones said.

Wake Forest has been invited to festival every year since 2005.

“We have an excellent program, with excellent students, and an excellent drama teacher in Ms. Jones,” Tech Theatre adviser Timothy Domack said. “We are crazy lucky to have students committed to what we do and willing to work long hours for a craft that we are passionate about.  Our students make the program.”

They first stayed in London for a week.

“We saw “Wicked” and “The Play that Goes Wrong,” which is their Weston shows. We also got to see Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, the changing of the guard and all sorts of touristy things. We got to go to Hyde Park, which was such a pretty park. We also got to use the tube as well as the busses and everything,” said senior performer Carly Hebert.

The second week, the students were in Scotland to perform at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

“When we got there, there was the Royal Mile, which is this big road with a bunch of shows on it, different venues, and different people advertising for different shows. It was super cool to see everything like that, especially the different ways that people advertise,” senior and Tech Director Nathan Morales said. “There were these people on stilts advertising for a medieval show. There were people playing dead. There were different street performers, like magicians, people juggling. There were some weird shows.”

Before performing, the students would advertise their show on the Royal Mile.

“Having to advertise for our own show on the street and then seeing an audience appear to watch what your students have produced is unbelievable,” Domack said.

The students performed three showings of the L. Don Swartz murder-mystery “A Night of Dark Intent” at Venue 9 near the Royal Mile.

“It was just a stage that was very small and intimate, and people are sitting on all three sides. There also wasn’t really a backstage, so it was very interesting. It was fun to get to perform so close to the audience,” Herbert said. “Here, with how our stage is, we can’t really point out who is in the audience and we can’t look at their faces, so it’s easier to stay in character almost pretending as if you’re not performing a show, but there I could make eye contact with people the whole time. I do feel like that almost made our show better since it was a mystery show, as it made it more suspenseful.”

The tech crew had to plan well ahead and make sure to bring only what they needed.

“There is something thrilling about the stress of having two hours to build and load in your show with your students, in a foreign country. We didn’t have the option of running to a Home Depot or WalMart, so all tech needs were planned here in the states, and we took what we thought we would need,” Domack said. “The tech students did a great job of loading in and running the show.  The actors were excellent in their performance.  The two groups together formed an excellent bond and a cohesiveness that produced a great show.”

Overall, Jones and Domack were impressed with the execution of the show.

“Our actors gave a stunning performance that was highly acclaimed,” Jones said in an email. “Just like my first trip to the Fringe, I had an awesome teaching partner and an amazing crew of technical theater students led by tech theater teacher Tim Domack. They built a set that came apart and fit into suitcases that we took with us on the plane. Special effects, such as a burning house and live radio chatter, had to be coordinated with the Scottish theater technicians according to their codes and standards, and the technicians had only one rehearsal to get everything right. They did us all proud! It was the experience of a lifetime, and I got to do it twice!”