With a performance of The Katrina Project: Hell and High Water, the Savannah Arts Academy Theatre Department will perform in the prestigious Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland next summer.
In order for a school to be entered into the contest - the American High School Theatre Festival (AHSTF) - the school must first be nominated by a professor of theatre. Andrea Verdis, the theatre department chair, received notice of the department's nomination to enter the contest. Next, an extensive application process must be completed.
"I found out that we had been nominated by not one, but three professors," says Verdis. "Two of the nominations were from Dr. Miller and Dr. Mellen from Armstrong Atlantic State University. The third came from Dr. Freidenburg at Wake Forest University.
"I knew who Dr. Miller and Dr. Mellen were," she admits, "but I'd never met Dr. Freidenburg."
When given the opportunity to meet Dr. Freidenburg at a thespian conference, she asked him why he nominated Savannah Arts Academy for the festival. He said that he had seen Savannah Arts Academy at previous conferences, and "I've seen what you can do," repeats Verdis.
"Savannah Arts Academy was one of 43 schools in the nation to be accepted into the festival," she says. "It is a huge honor."
Verdis got to choose which piece the department would perform in the festival. She describes why she went with The Katrina Project:
"I was lucky enough to go to Scotland in May," she explains. "I stayed at the University of Edinburgh, which is where the students will stay. I got to stay in the same dorms they're going to. I got to eat the same food as they're going to eat.
"And while I was there, I got the chance to ask the AHSTF Board of Advisors what type of performance we should do."
They told her, "Do what you do best." That got Andrea thinking.
"Theatre is meant to be thought-provoking, and The Katrina Project is definitely thought-provoking," she says.
The play focuses on Hurricane Katrina and its survivors. The piece is based on actual interviews with survivors and people who helped, such as Kanye West. It focuses on the trauma of the event, but ends on a hopeful note.
Verdis says, "If the play raises awareness of the importance of being prepared for disaster on a national level, then it has done its job."
Terresa Kizer, technical manager, points out that "The piece is student-generated. They do everything from build the set to handle the stage lighting. The set for the fall production will be elaborate, including a house and a boat."
Obviously, the students cannot bring this elaborate set with them to Scotland, but while there, "They'll rent two ramps and a platform that will represent the house and the boat."
Kizer says, "Two of the students that are going on the trip are designated as technicians, and they'll handle the set."
The play is performed at Savannah Arts Academy Nov. 6-8. Dinner theatre tickets for sale through Nov. 4 for $25 each. Nov. 6-7 dinner is at 6 p.m. and the performance is at 7 p.m. Nov. 8, dinner is at 1:30 p.m. and the performance is at 2:30 p.m.
To attend the performance and not the dinner, tickets cost $10 and can be purchased at the door. All proceeds go to help pay for the expenses of traveling to Scotland. The theatre department will also be having an all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast at Applebee's on Abercorn Nov. 14 from 7:30-9:30 a.m to raise funds for the trip. The department will also accept any donations.
For more info, call Andrea Verdis at (912) 201-5528 or e-mail her at Andrea.firstname.lastname@example.org.
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