Drama competes in Cal Poly Scene Festival

Seven Advanced Drama students represented Walnut High School in the annual Drama Festival at Cal Poly Pomona on Jan. 9, which lasted from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Fourteen other high schools from Southern California participated, and competition was fierce because of the different experience levels each high school had. The students showcased three scenes: “Soprano’s Dinner” by juniors Iman Mimou and Cecilia Liang and senior Christina Su; “Watermelon Boats” by seniors Kensy Hernandez and Becky Chen; and “The Next Mrs. Anderson” by junior Breezh Nunez and senior Julie Banagale.

“We chose [the scenes] because the [scenes were] well written and interesting and also, we can relate to the characters we were portraying. I could relate with the character [because] she was a girl with high expectations but often struggled to meet them. I wanted to portray my character as realistic as possible to really create a sense of connection to the audience,” Chen said.

Preparations for the festival began in late November but became more frequent as the date approached. Practice sessions took place during tutorial, lunch, drama class and after school.

“I think the hardest part [of practice] was trying to play three different ages as the same character because in the scene we start at the age of 11, then we’re 15 and then we’re 21. We had to really think about what made the character who they are and how they would act at [the] certain age. We tried changing our physical looks to match the age and we tried doing distinct actions, changing our posture and the way we stand,” Chen said.

Before performing, the students introduced their names, schools and scene. A table was prepared for each scene in advance, but otherwise they were told to bring their own props.

“Prior to the performance I was freaking out because it was my first festival. I was really nervous and was pacing around backstage. After the performance I was partly relieved because it was over but I was a little disappointed in the audience’s reaction because they didn’t laugh at some of the parts I wanted them to laugh at. However one of the judges praised us later on so that made me feel better,” Liang said.

The minimum for each scene was 10 minutes and the maximum was 15 minutes. The two judges graded their performance according to a rubric.

“I got really nervous at first that it got to the point that I was forgetting my lines but then when it was finally our turn to perform all my nervousness left and I got all my lines down. I felt really good after we performed and I thought we did a good job,” Hernandez said.

Although the students did not place, the festival helped develop their acting skills, and the advice and critiques they got from the judges and other participants will be used toward improving their next performance.

“I thought the festival was really fun. It is always inspiring to watch other people perform scenes. By watching other people perform I am able to distinguish what works on stage and what doesn’t which will help me when picking and performing a scene for my next festival,” Chen said.

By Airi Gonzalez, Staff writer

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