By Michele Dotson

Northeast Middle School’s Theatre Department, under the direction of Mr. Brian Seagroves, brought home honors from the 2014 North Carolina Theater Conference (NCTC) Middle School Play Festival, held at Kings Mountain High School on March 15. Screen Shot 2014-03-27 at 8.38.26 PM

The group presented The Arkansaw Bear at the festival and was presented with the following awards; Excellence in Choreography, and Excellence in Student Design and Production – Scenic Design/Scene Painting.

Each spring, the North Carolina Theatre Conference presents the Middle School Play Festival at two regional sites across the state.

In 2014, more than 300 students from 13 schools participated in the statewide event, presenting 15 plays. 

The Festival brings curriculum to life, honors dedicated teachers and their schools’ commitment to arts education, and contributes to the development of future audiences for live performing arts.

The Festival also encourages excellence in theatre arts programs and challenges students to do their best work.

Northeast Middle School students traveled to the conference with their sets and unloaded them backstage at Kings Mountain High School into a 10′x10′ space.

When it was their turn to perform, they had just 45 minutes to present their play and then leave the stage completely clear.

The play was cast at the end of January and students worked hard to perfect their performance, with lots of interruptions from the weather.

“We rehearsed for a total of four and a half weeks,” says Seagroves. “We would rehearse during my honor’s theatre class on A days and after school for two hours on B days. The students easily put in more than 50 hours-worth of rehearsal time into making this show.”

The story is about a young girl named Tish, who, saddened at her grandfather’s approaching death, runs to her special tree.

There, in a world of fantasy provided by her wish on a star, she meets the world’s greatest dancing bear, who is old, like her grandfather, and is running away—from death.

In trying to help him, she begins to understand the meaning of both life and death, which helps her to cope with her own sadness.

Seagroves is proud of the students’ efforts and highly commends their performance.

“I could not be more proud of all the students that embraced my vision for this production,” says Seagroves.  “Their hard work and incomparable talent resonated well in every performance they put on stage here (at Northeast Middle School) and at NCTC.  Every single one of them earned each tear drop and hand clap and chuckle that the audiences were more than happy to give.”

14 Northeast Middle School students participated in the conference.

Gaby Umanizor played TISH, Jessiya White was MOTHER, Kortni Blakeney portrayed AUNT ELLEN, Lindsey Copeland played STARBRIGHT,  Mackenzie Garlick was THE MIME, and Trajan Mobley played THE WORLD’S GREATEST DANCING BEAR.

Other parts were played by Zach Workman as THE ANNOUNCER, Dejaimon Parks played THE RINGMASTER, and Katelyn Shields played LITTLE BEAR.

Additional support was provided by stage manager Sinia Esquivel, Martha Aguilar- Assistant Stage Manager, Kinsley McLean- Assistant Director, Nathlita Karnley- moral support, and Naomi Mal- Set/Costume/Spotlight Technician.

Following their performance, students received feedback from professional actors and directors.

The NCTC Middle School Play Festival is made possible by support from the North Carolina Arts Council.