Hahnville High theater students earn top honors at International Thespian Festival

Hahnville High School theater students competed June 19-24 at the International Thespian Festival in Bloomington, Ind., taking home one perfect score and drawing multiple “excellent” scores.

The festival, held annually each summer, is a national competition drawing talented high school theater students from all over the United States. High school theater students qualified for the national event by placing “superior” on the state level, which several Hahnville High students were able to achieve earlier in January at a state theater competition in Natchitoches.

“At the International Festival, we saw really top-notch performances from students that are invited to perform at the festival, from all over,” said Lucas Harms, Hahnville High Talented Theater teacher. “You had groups from Texas, from California, Indiana…two stage shows featured were from Louisiana – one from Mount Carmel and the other from Alexandria High School.”

In addition to competing on various theater skills such as musical theater performance, solo acting, costume design and other categories, the national competition in Indiana also allowed students to participate in workshops offered by industry professionals, including some Broadway stars.

Students Tyron Martin, Taelor Baily, Alivia Downs, Gabrielle Stanfield each scored “excellent” in their respective categories. Amiya Samuel scored a “superior” while Emily Ayton scored a perfect score for her costume design work.

“We had some really good scores,” said Harms, who attended the event as the students’ theater teacher sponsor, of his students’ efforts at the competition.

Ayton’s perfect score in the competition allowed her to be featured on stage at the event’s closing ceremony with other perfect scoring theater students. Ayton was presented a “Thespy” award, which is the highest honor a theater student can receive for their work.

To achieve her perfect score in the competition, Ayton didn’t have to build costumes, but she had to design costumes for every character in “The Crucible,” a 1953 play by American playwright Arthur Miller. The famous play is a dramatized story focused on the Salem witch trials, set around the year 1692.

“Emily did an amazing amount of work and research; she was very thorough,” said Harms. “I can’t recall all of the comments that the judges had on her evaluation forms, but it was all praise.”

Harms commented that Ayton earned her perfect score by remaining extremely detailed in every aspect of her costume design, even down to her color selection of fabrics.

“She would go so far as to – if she didn’t have the right color – she would use processes that they would have had in Puritan Colonial America to develop that color; she would be dying things,” said Harms. “I think she dyed some [fabrics] in tea to get a certain brown – she was extremely thorough.”


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