What’s Your Act?

Drama department goes to Mo. State Thespian Conference


submitted by Madison Haynes

A group of Liberty thespians spend an afternoon in the snow following 2019 ThesCon in Kansas City. Due to inclement weather conditions, the troupe spent an extra night at their hotel. What started as a change of plans led to a conference-wide snowball fight, creating memories Troupe 8211 will never forget.

Lizzie Kayser, Reporter

“What’s Your Act?”, the 2019 Missouri State Thespian conference, was held in Kansas City from Jan. 10-12. There, 15 of Liberty’s theatre students took a multitude of workshops, competed in events, gained insight on auditions and grew closer as a troupe.

Weather was a concern the week of ThesCon, with the O’Fallon area receiving six to eight inches of snow. All Wentzville School District thespian troupes stayed an extra night in Kansas City as a precaution and made it home safely.

Though at first the snow seemed like nothing more than a literal roadblock, thespians used their extra time to make memories. After closing session on Saturday, a group decided to go outside and have a snowball fight. To many, this evening was representative of the ThesCon experience.

Lizzie Kayser
“What’s Your Act?”, the 2019 Mo. State Thespian Conference, was circus themed. A number of appropriately-themed workshops were offered, such as a “The Greatest Showman” dance class and “Everyone Can Juggle”. On Friday evening, a carnival was hosted for the thespians.

“My favorite ThesCon memories are the ones you don’t plan on,” senior Devin Eckardt said. “It’s not a workshop or a class, but little things that you don’t anticipate, like starting a big snowball fight with total strangers.”

With its supportive and spontaneous energy, ThesCon allowed students to step out of their boundaries.

One of the troupe’s biggest achievements was their first improv intensive tournament.  Liberty’s team (Seniors Cameron Jones, Devin Eckardt, Paxton Linnemeyer,  junior Madison Haynes, and sophomore Shaina Feinstein) played three different improv games in front of judges, with the first being a head-to-head competition and the last two being team events. In the end, they scored two superiors and one excellent.

Junior Madison Haynes was nervous to compete in the intensive but is now grateful for the experience.

“Being on stage is pretty out of my comfort zone, so being without a script is terrifying to me,” Haynes said. “[The improv intensive] allowed me to get close to some of my fellow thespians and try something new that I never would have done.”

Improv was not the only new experience offered to thespians. Workshops, ranging from becoming a drama teacher to sword fighting, allowed students to grow in their technical and acting abilities.

While many workshops were offered, “Improv a Musical” was a favorite amongst Liberty thespians. Led by Ed Reggi, a professional stage actor of 20 years and Emmy award winner, the workshop covered how to improvise a full-length production. The students were then given a chance to try a scene themselves.Senior Cameron Jones was selected to perform a duet with another thespian. He portrayed a criminal named “the Man in the Hat”, and begged a cop not to arrest him because he loved his grandma (through a musical number). Though the initial idea seemed outlandish, Reggi’s coaching created a memorable performance.

submitted by Emily Stabile
The Improv Intensive team acts out a scene in a game called Captain’s Log, where they had to play both characters and props. Cameron Jones (12) irons a suit after as Devin Eckhardt (12), playing his conscience, watches.

“I wasn’t sure going into it, but it was so much fun,” sophomore Irem Inan, who attended the workshop, said. “They took suggestions from the crowd, and the duet itself ended up hilarious.”

Other workshops allowed students to develop new acting techniques. Senior Paxton Linnemeyer attended “Rasaboxes”, a workshop designed to help advanced actors both experience and portray emotions at heightened levels. Students walked through boxes labeled as different feelings, such as fear or laughter, and steadily increased the intensity at which they felt them.

“This class was the most intense class I attended this year,” Linnemeyer said. “It truly made me feel like more of a grounded actor.”

Junior Madison Haynes, along with fellow troupe members, are excited to see where 2019 will take the theater program. She believes sponsor Mrs. Gehrke’s love for both theater and her students has given the troupe more opportunities to share their acts with the world.  

“We are the luckiest troupe on earth to have Gehrke as our director,” Haynes said. “Our ThesCon experience and success would have never happened without her dedication.”

You can see Troupe 8211’s new skills in action in their upcoming production of Radium Girls Mar. 7-9.