When I got to the Minneapolis airport and met Jim Curtis, I knew I was about to have an even better conference than I expected. Jim, who was the EdTA rep for Nebraska, could not have been nicer. Once we got to the hotel, we got the chance to eat with Mrs. Dashner, the chapter director, and her troupe. I sat with her troupe, and they were some of the nicest people I have ever met. They were so welcoming and we had a wonderful dinner. After dinner, I got the chance to meet the thespians from Millard West. They were also extremely welcoming, and several of us headed to set up registration.
The next morning, I got the chance to meet several thespians at breakfast, and then it was time for festival to start. I loved working at the registration desk and meeting people as they came up. Then, I got to go to opening ceremonies. Nebraska’s opening ceremony was incredible. They had a fabulous skit related to their theme “Once Upon a Time.” All of the Thespians who performed were EXTREMELY talented; I was truly blown away. Then, Abbie Cobb, a Nebraska Thespian Alum, spoke. She gave a wonderful keynote. She is now working in LA, (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2796384/) and talked about what it has been like, what she has learned, and her advice. After opening, it was lunch time, and then time for IEs.
Mid-day Friday, 88 improv performed an improv show for all festival delegates. They were given two words, and they did a whole one act based around those! The words that they were given were potato and astronaut. The show was hilarious, and was definitely the highlight of my afternoon.
That evening, the whole festival went to the banquet. I LOVED the idea of the banquet. Everyone had tables assigned randomly, so Thespians from different schools got to meet each other. Everyone ate dinner together in the ballroom. After dinner, the teacher of the year was announced. This year, there were two phenomenal teachers chosen. At the tables, each student received a program. On the backs of some of the programs, there were different colored stickers. For the Thespians that had stickers, it meant they got a prize. Some of the prizes were from a grab box, while others were items such as a signed Abbie Cobb book. It was really fun to watch everyone get their prizes. That evening, we went and watched the evening show and then went to the dance. Walking into the dance, the UNL students had done different projections to go along with the “Once Upon a Time” theme.
First thing Saturday morning was the improve challenge. Each school brought an improve team, and they were judge on how well they did three different improv games. 88 improv, who we had gotten to watch the day before judged the event. I was amazed at the skill level that many of the participants had while improving. The things that they came up with off the top of their head and developed into stories were hilarious!
During lunch, I got the opportunity to help judge the troupe displays and troupe banners. I really enjoyed getting to look at all of the creativity that was used to make these. They were all extremely different, but all incredible. One troupe made Cinderella’s carriage, one troupe had a HUGE book with pictures, and one troupe had pages flying out of a book, with pictures of their troupe as some of the pages. The troupe banners also looked awesome. We saw everything from hand painted banners to banners that had cutouts sewn on. I enjoyed seeing what each troupe had come up with.
Right before the one act Saturday morning, we did a fundraiser called “Miracle Minute.” Some states also call this “A Minute to Give It.” The idea is that everyone in the audience has exactly 60 seconds to donate as much as they can. In Nebraska, we used “Miracle Minute” to raise money for Broadway Cares/ Equity Fights AIDS. We were able to raise hundreds of dollars in 60 seconds.
That afternoon, I taught both a leadership and an advocacy workshop. I enjoyed getting to talk those in my workshop and getting their feedback. I especially enjoyed my leadership workshop, because several of the students in there had questions, because they have been in weird situations recently. We got to talk through those and discuss different solutions to the problems. I love when I can apply what I want to teach in my workshop, to something that people are currently dealing with.
After my workshops, it was time to say goodbye to festival. We had the NIES showcase, and then closing ceremony. I LOVED watching the showcase. The performances were again absolutely amazing and filled with talent. This was a wonderful way to end a great festival!