By, Lacy Hilliard
It may be a little known fact that Johnson County High School (JCHS) can boast an active and impressive group of actors and actresses. Last weekend (January 17-20) the Johnson County
High School , Thespian Troupe #1441 traveled to Murfeesboro, Tennessee to attend the annual Tennessee Thespian Conference held at Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU). Several talented JCHS students travel to the conference each year, which in past years was held at a Memphis high school . This years experience was unique, however it gave students
not only a chance to participate in workshops but also a small introduction to college life.
The MTSU campus is large and impressive. The first Tennessee ThesCon experience was registration at the campus state-of-the-art student center. A combination of glass, fine wood, recessed lighting and plush furniture, the students made themselves comfortable in the student center while deciding which of the many workshops they would attend over the weekend.
ThesCon offers everything you would expect of a conference geared toward theater, as well as much of the unexpected. The workshops were held in various buildings throughout the MTSU campus and focused on topics such as prop and set design, dance, improvisation, aerial theatre, stage lighting, musical theatre, stage makeup, mask making, vocal coaching, and auditioning dos and dont just to name a few. The clinicians were all experts in their respective fields dedicating to inspiring and educating students a various levels of theatrical performance and tech.
Perhaps one of the most impressive aspects of Tennessee ThesCon are the performances. Each year, two high schools are chosen to perform on the main stage for every ThesCon attendee. This year, Franklin High School performed a nothing-short-of-spectacular rendition of God Spell and two actors with talent far beyond their years from Bolton High School gave a side splitting performance of Greater Tuna.
Several members of Thespian Troupe #1441 shared their ThesCon experience with The Tomahawk. There were so many workshops to choose from. I took one on Shakespearean dancing. It was so much fun, even for people that arent typically dancers, said Hannah Arnett. Kristen Branch spoke about the camaraderie that is typical of the ThesCon experience stating, You feel so welcome, ThesCon makes you feel like you can do anything. Mikayla Moody echoed Branchs sentiment saying, its so nice to meet people that get you everyone is so nice, theres no judgment. When asked what advice members o f Thespian Troupe #1441 would give to any incoming J C H S freshman interested in getting involved in the drama department, Senior Thespian Troupe member Tayla Clark responded, Just be confident and be yourself. Weve all been the new person before and even if you dont know a lot (about theatre ) , you'll learn a lot just by trying your hardest. Clark went on to say You cant take anything personal. People get stressed in theatre but its really like a family. Thespian Tr o u p e President Ella Conder said, Art is taken seriously and respect is a given. There is a lot of encouragement given at ThesCon. Senior member Evan Lewis spoke of the new opportunities ThesCon has provided to him, I want to audition for musical theatre but there arent a lot of resources in Mountain City. The musical theatre work¬shop I took at ThesCon really helped give me confidence to go on.
The family-like atmosphere of the Johnson County High School Drama Department is apparently not only in the relationships between the kids, but also the relationship with their fearless leader, Lisa Zeggert. Zeggert seems to possess a genuine love for each of her students and she respects them each as individuals, This is a great group of talented and trustworthy kids said Zeggert.
Members of Thespian Troupe #1441 that attended Tennessee ThesCon 2014 are as follows: Hannah Arnett, Kristen Branch, Tayla Clark, Ella Conder, Marley Conder, David Eller, Janae Eshelman, Fern Flores, Dade Fritts, Madison Green, Lindsey Hutchinson, Sydnie Icenhour, Karley Kirsch, Evan Lewis, Sarah Marshall, Mikayla Moody, Aisia Robbins, Gerald Seaberg, and Carlos Valadares. Each student had a unique experience but the collective verdict was perhaps best summed up by Kristen Branch, ThesCon is awesome, she said.
The best way to ensure the future of the JCHS drama pro¬gram is to attend one of their amazing performances. Look for their upcoming production of The Wizard of Oz, set to hit the Heritage Hall stage in March of this year.