CHADRON – Chadron State College’s Theatre Day attracted about 425 participants from 14 high schools in three states this year, which is a noteworthy increase over the usual annual attendance of 300, according to Roger Mays, visual and performing arts professor.
Twelve different workshops on a wide range of theatre topics from Shakespeare to hand combat and jazz were offered in breakout sessions across campus from 9 to 11 a.m. The high school students were guests for the CSC production of “Peter and the Starcatcher” in the afternoon.
Jessica Steffen-Schepers of Sturgis, South Dakota, and Wacey Gallegos of Ainsworth, Nebraska, led a stage fighting workshop in the dance room of the Nelson Physical Activity Center. They taught students how to fake jabs, uppercuts and slaps while performing on stage.
“When you are on stage you have to be able to punch and get punched, and it has to look real. We teach them how to make it look and sound genuine to the audience,” Steffen-Schepers said.
The variety and quality of the sessions have attracted distant high schools for years.
Jeremiah Kolkman, theatre teacher at Cheyenne Central High School, said he has been attending CSC’s Theatre Day for eight years. This year he brought 25 students from ninth through 12th grades. He considers the four-hour trip to CSC valuable.
“Roger Mays works really well with the students. There are so many options for them – stage combat, technical aspects, make-up and audition tips. It’s good for them to see a different culture of theatre than what we see on our others trip within Wyoming,” he said.
Vicky DeWald, English and theatre teacher at Crawford High School, said this was her first year attending Theatre Day. She attended the scene painting workshop, led by Amy Campion, CSC alumna. The workshop covered different painting techniques for set pieces.
“With the college providing great workshops and so many participants, it is really great for the schools attending. It is also great for me, because I love this stuff and you can never stop learning,” Seward said.
CSC theatre majors, in addition to faculty, led many of the sessions.
Tausha Holtz of Sidney, Nebraska, instructed one of two makeup sessions utilizing her collection of photos and drawings for actor’s makeup. She used fishnet as a stencil to help create the visual illusion of fish scales for mermaids in “Peter and the Starcatcher.” She is also a member of the cast.
“I wanted to make the orphans in this play look dirty so I asked Roger if I could use a technique I learned about when I was part of Way Out West. It is a burnt end of a wine cork. It works really well for the effect we want,” Holtz said.
“Peter and the Starcatcher,” will be performed in Memorial Hall’s Auditorium Thursday through Saturday of homecoming week at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets are free for CSC faculty, staff and students and $5 for the public. Reservations can be made by calling 308-432-6207 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
—Tena Cook and Conor P. Casey