EDITOR DANIEL CLIFTON
All dedicated actors hope to get a callback, a chance to perform one more time.
And four Marble Falls High School theater arts students, duos Abigail Collard and Charles “C.W.” Hellen and Charles McLean and Gillian Goff, earned that coveted callback at the International Thespian Festival with Collard and Hellen picked to perform on the main stage. The event was June 24-29 at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. It draws more than 4,500 people from around the world and is one of the largest thespian festivals for high school students with over 1,700 of them participating in National Individual Events.
Marble Falls theater arts teacher Jon Clark pointed out that more than 1,000 duos or groups hope to land a main stage performance at the international festival, but only 10 are selected.
“It’s a huge accomplishment to get chosen to perform on the main stage,” Clark said.
The two Marble Falls duos selected comedic pieces, typically more difficult than other genres, to perform at the festival.
And all four students made an impression.
“The judges were really cracking up,” Clark said.
The judges weren’t the only ones taking notice. Watching nearby was Tony-nominated playwright Hunter Bell.
After Collard and Hellen performed later during the week on the main stage, Bell came up to them, Clark, and Marble Falls choir/theater arts teacher Emily Chavez in the green room, shook Clark’s hand and complimented the students.
“He sat down with us, talking, and praising the kids, saying they’re so talented, funny,” Clark said. “It was incredible to have this, you know, Tony Award-nominated person saying such great things about out students. I felt like (the judges and others) were really impressed with what our Marble Falls kids brought to Lincoln.”
Collard, Hellen, McLean, Goff and fellow Marble Falls thespians Taylor Gunter, Megan Harris, Zachary Young, and Endrit Bislimi also earned superior rankings in individual events.
The International Thespian Festival rounded out a strong overall performance by the Marble Falls theater program this past year. In the spring, the one-act play advanced to the Texas University Interscholastic League’s state contest.
“It’s been a great year,” Clark said.
Before being considered for a main stage performance at the international festival, Collard and Hellen had to first earn superior ratings at the Texas Thespian Festival last fall in Grapevine. Like the international event, groups at the state event also compete for a chance to perform on the main stage.
And it’s quite the accomplishment as well, considering the size of state’s talent pool with 1,079 groups vying for a spot on the main stage.
Yet three Marble Falls duos, Hellen and Collard, Bislimi and Young, and McLean and Goff, earned perfect scores, putting them in the running. It was the first time in Marble Falls history that three groups qualified for main stage selection.
All three of the duos and five other Marble Falls students received superior ratings at the state festival to qualify for the international event this June. Another duo, Jordan Brandt and Gabby Rinker, qualified for duet acting while three others earned a spot for individual events. Those were Taylor Gunter for costume construction, Connor Bingaman for scenic design, and Megan Harris for costume design.
“The main stage at Texas, the main stage at (the International Thespian Festival), and our one-act advancing to state, that’s a hat trick for us,” Clark added.