FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thespians from the Performing Arts Conservatory at Notre Dame Fair Well at Area Festival

Clarksburg, WV– On Monday students from The Performing Arts Conservatory at Notre Dame received several honors and awards in the West Virginia Thespian Area III South Festival at West Virginia Wesleyan College.

The high school Thespian troupe, under the direction of Jason A. Young, took home runner-up honors in the one-act play competition with wikiTheatre by Steve McElroy, a West Virginia playwright. The runner-up finish automatically advances the show to the West Virginia State Thespian Festival at WVU in March.

wikiTheatre is a quirky, mockumentary style play featuring a group of high school students seeking to educate the audience on the history of theatre through a series of satirical vignettes. It includes parodies of AntigoneEveryman, the works of William Shakespeare, and The Glass Menagerie.

The Notre Dame High School cast, comprised entirely of freshmen and sophomores, included Zachary Davis, Danielle Drummond, McKenzie Fittro, Hannah Gowarty, Ben Long, Lucy Ruble-Osborne, Nicole Schumacher, and Maryn Seamon.

“It is a very different show,” said Young, who also leads the entire Performing Arts Conservatory program. “You either love the script or you hate the script, but you don’t have a choice but to love how well these young actors perform the script. They were in rare form on Monday afternoon.”

The middle school Thespian troupe, in their first year and under the direction of Trina Byard, was nominated as a “wild card” selection to the State Thespian One-Act Play Festival for their performance of Appropriate Audience Behavior by Ian McWethy.

“A wild card show is a show that may be presented at the state festival if the schedule allows,” said Young. “I have a high confidence level that we will get a performance spot.”

Appropriate Audience Behavior is an outrageously meta comedy in which Carol and Ashley are expecting a tale of woe as they take their seats to watch Hamlet, but the real tragedy is that they are sitting next to the world’s noisiest weirdos. The audience takes the spotlight as everyone from a cough-drop obsessive to a guy watching a play like a football game steals the show from the unseen Shakespeare masterpiece.

The Notre Dame Middle School cast included Will Behrens, Sophia DeMary, Noah Fitch, Erin Frosch, Mary Korn, Zyla Lanham, Ariana Long, Gracie Nardella, Mary Claire Palmer, Ajai Woofter, and Tiara Tulanowski.

“I am very proud of my middle school PAC students,” said Byard. “They have been working so hard on their production. It’s great to see their hard work, dedication, and focus rewarded.”

In addition to the success of the two troupes’ one-act plays, several individual students received some of the festival’s superlative awards, most notably Hannah Gowarty from the high school troupe who was awarded one of only two Festival Best Actor awards. Ben Long, McKenzie Fittro, Ajai Woofter, Erin Frosch, and Mary Claire Palmer were named to the All-Festival Cast, and the middle school troupe also received a Special Recognition from the judges for their work as an ensemble in their one-act play performance.

“You land five on the All-Festival Cast and come home with a Best Actor Award, it’s a pretty good day,” said Young. “All of this recognition is a testament to the wonderful students and their dedication and hard work. We have tried to surround and support them with an incredible group of teachers and directors and place them in a process by which they can succeed. Obviously something is going right.”

The West Virginia State Thespian Festival will take place March 14-16 at West Virginia University in Morgantown. In addition to the one-act play festival, Performing Arts Conservatory students will also be participating in individual acting and musical theatre competition events as well as attending workshops from the state’s top teaching artists.

“Notre Dame is one of only a handful of schools in the state to even have a middle school Thespian troupe,” said Young. “I also think we are probably the only school in the diocese to boast such programs and will likely be one of just a few single A high schools competing at states. We are making history every day.”


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