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Illinois State hosts Illinois High School Theatre Festival

Oz instillation completed project

The "Journey to Oz: Design, Build, Tech" workshop's completed installation. (Photo courtesy of Lauren Lowell)

Illinois State University opened its classrooms and theatres to over 5,000 students, teachers, and vendors attending the Illinois High School Theatre Festival from January 7–9, 2016.

President Larry Dietz opened the 41st year of the annual festival, themed “Dare to Dream,” with a welcome address, kicking off several days of activities including workshops, performances, and exhibitions.

College of Fine Arts Dean Jean Miller attended the festival and described it as “just amazing,” stating that she has “never experienced anything like it in any other state or on any other campus.”

Recently retired College of Fine Arts Associate Dean Pete Guither and School of Theatre and Dance Professor Dan Browder were honored with Outstanding Contribution to the Festival Awards given at the sponsor’s reception January 8.

Lauren Lowell described her “Journey to Oz: Design, Build, Tech” workshop as open to all students who wanted to play.

“We created an installation of Oz with a pile of fabric, approximately $100 of Dollar Store items, and an empty room using scissors, glue, and creativity,” said Lowell. “At various points we had up to 30 students in the room gluing and cutting and pasting and building and focusing lights.”

The Wizard of Oz film and soundtrack were playing in the background for additional inspiration. On January 9, hundreds of students and teachers visited the completed installation in Centennial West 202.

School of Theatre and Dance faculty and students presented workshops on a range of topics that included acting, stage combat, voice and more. The workshops were well-attended by enthusiastic students from across the state. Exhibitors from colleges, professional production houses, and other vendors were present on-campus.  Performances were high caliber, especially the All-State 2016 production of Rent in the Bone Student Center’s Braden Auditorium.

Cyndee Brown, Illinois State University’s School of Theatre and Dance representative for the festival, said the Illinois High School Theatre Festival is one of the most successful events hosted by our campus all year.

“Illinois State University really shines during this event,” Brown said. “We give theatre students a place to be who they are for those magical three days.”

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