O’Neal Players receive high marks at state thesfest

O’Neal Thespian Society Members made their debut in thespian society competitions this year only to progress to the international level. Having been awarded superior recognition in the state competition, all four O’Neal thespians have qualified for the International Thespian Festival Competition at Indiana University Bloomington in June. 

The journey started virtually in January at the regional thespian festival. Caitlyn Blocklinger qualified for the state festival in the Monologue category. Blocklinger, Charlotte Mills, and Maddie Hostler qualified in the Short Scene category. Nik Epstein earned a ticket to the state competition in the Solo in Music category. 

The North Carolina Thespian Festival was held at East Carolina University March 1-3. Over the three days, O’Neal’s “Troupe 10861” attended various workshops between “Thespy” competitions. Sessions such as playwrighting, stage combat, musical improv, and prison theatre were resourceful and gave insight to O’Neal’s performing arts students.

As for the competition segment, Epstein performed the solo “Dust and Ashes” from “The Great Comet of 1812.” Blocklinger, Mills, and Hostler performed the short scene titled “Reunion after the End of the World” by Will Quam. Blocklinger also performed two contrasting monologues: “Struggling for the Surface” by Emilio Lasielo and “Dad Died, Where Was I?” by Sherri Mandell. After the scores were tabulated, Epstein received a superior ranking for Solo in Music, and Blocklinger, Mills, and Hostler also scored superior in Short Scene. Blocklinger scored excellence in Monologue. The superior scores, the highest level of achievement, qualified the troupe to compete at the international level in the categories: Solo in Music (Epstein) and Short Scene (Blocklinger, Mills, Hostler). 

“I am amazed that in our first year, all our students have progressed this far in thespian festival competition. It was beyond our expectations!” exclaims performing arts instructor Joni Warner. “This year, our goal was just to get it figured out. I never imagined progressing to the international level in our first year. I am so proud of all their hard work and drive to do their best.”

O’Neal’s thespians are working out the logistics for a week in Bloomington at the international festival, competing and attending workshops.

O’Neal received its charter from The International Thespian Society in October of 2022. The International Thespian Society is the only theater honor society in the United States for middle and high school students. Through its membership, the affiliation brings credibility and distinction to the school, its theater program, and its students.

Feature photo: (L-R) Instructor Joni Warner, Charlotte Mills, Maddie Hostler, Caitlyn Blocklinger, and Nik Epstein.

Contributed/Courtesy photo.

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