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Bullis Students Shine at Maryland Thespian Festival

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Bullis Students Shine at Maryland Thespian Festival
by Wendy Wheeler, Digital & Brand Marketing Strategist
Bullis students attend MD Thespys

In January, 32 students from Bullis’s Thespian Troupe #3707, the theatre honor society, and five teachers attended the 2023 Maryland State Thespian Festival (Thespys® for short) at the University of Maryland, College Park. More than 800 students from over 40 high schools, troupe directors, teaching artists, and chaperones from across the state came together to honor student achievement in theatre and to grow as artists. The two-day festival was packed with over 300 skill-building workshops led by industry leaders, the highly anticipated One-Act Festival competition, the International Thespian Excellence Awards, college program and scholarship auditions, guest speakers, and all-state performances ranging from improv sketches to full-length productions.

Chelsie King, Middle School theatre arts teacher and Troupe Associate Director, also attended the festival with five 8th-Grade Acting Majors students, marking the first time Bullis Middle School students have attended the festival.

It was so special to be able to go to the Maryland State Thespian Festival because it was my first real chance to compete in theatre. I also got to spend time with Bullis Upper School theatre students and participate in many workshops and theatre games. I’m really looking forward to going to the National Thespian Festival in Bloomington, Indiana, this summer! Juliet W. ’27
Victoria M. '23 STO President

Victoria M. ’23, President of Student Thespian Officers, delivers her speech during the Maryland State Thespian Festival.

Victoria M. ’23, Sam P. ’24, and Zoe A. ’25 served as Student Thespian Officers (STOs). STOs are the voice for the entire student membership of Maryland Thespians and are appointed by members of the Maryland Thespians Board. During the festival, Victoria, Sam, and Zoe acted as ambassadors for the International Thespian Society, facilitated workshops, organized and ran troupe events, and raised money for theatre-related charities. Victoria, who served as STO President, delivered a beautiful speech during the opening ceremonies to kick off the event.

Many Bullis students participated in the International Thespian Excellence Awards—individual auditions in 16 categories spanning performance, technical theatre, filmmaking, and writing, in which students prepare and present their work to a panel of professional judges. The students received constructive feedback from each of the judges that helped them grow in their chosen disciplines. Scores for the awards were based on a rubric, and students with the highest scores received a SUPERIOR rating and move on to compete at the International Thespian Festival at Indiana University in June.

Bullis students attend MD Thespys

Five of Ms. King’s 8th-grade Acting Majors attended the Festival with her.

Six Bullis students received SUPERIOR ratings and qualified for the International Thespian Excellence Awards, a distinguished accomplishment that deserves celebration: Charlie Y. ’23 - Scenic Design; Ella R. ’23 - Scenic Design; Alcides O. ’24 - Scenic Design; Cyrus R. ’24 and Victoria M. ’23 - Duet Acting; Cyrus R. ’24 - Solo Acting; Victoria M. ’23 - Solo Musical Theatre; and Juliet W. ’27 - Solo Musical Theatre.

The following students received EXCELLENT ratings: Amelie C. ’24 - Scenic Design; Clare V. ’24 - Solo Acting; Jared T. ’27 - Solo Acting; Abe G. ’27 - Solo Acting; Juliet W. ’27 - Solo Acting; Alexa T. ’27, Juliet W. ’27, and Sebby S. ’27 - Group Acting; Juliana B. ’24 - Solo Musical Theatre; Sam P. ’24 - Solo Musical Theatre; and Rosie T. ’25 - Musical Theatre Solo.

Students presented the play Conflict by Wade Bradford as part of the One-Act Festival competition. The judges were very complimentary, and the students won two awards for Best Props and Best Physical Work. Cyrus R. ’24 and Samantha K. ’24 were also recognized for their performances.

Eight seniors were named All-State Thespians, a distinct and monumental achievement. All-State Thespians, who are nominated by their Troupe Director, must be inducted honor Thespians, having earned a minimum of 60 points and held a leadership position within their troupe. Medals were presented to students in the Class of 2023: Naomi C., Anita C., Blake G., Sienna G., Victoria M., Ella R., Charlie Y., and Michael Y.

Two students were also awarded multiple college scholarships at the festival. The University of Maryland, Baltimore County, offered $1,000 to Charlie Y. ’23; The School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies at the University of Maryland offered $3,000 to Charlie Y. ’23 and Victoria M. ’23; and Arcadia University offered immediate acceptance into the Theatre Program to Victoria M. ’23, and should she choose to accept, she will also receive a Talent Scholarship.

The International Thespian Society (ITS) is the only honors society for theatre students in the United States. Being involved with ITS and the Educational Theatre Association elevates the stature of our program. Whether students go on to study theatre or not, it will open many doors for them and connect them to thousands of other students who love doing theatre. Attending the Maryland Festival provides opportunities to work with industry professionals, audition for colleges, see other schools perform, and make new friends. It is a magical weekend where we celebrate all things theatre! Marcia Franklin, Theatre Arts Teacher and Troupe Associate Director

It was also an excellent weekend for Bullis’s faculty. Technical Director, theatre arts teacher, and Troupe Associate Director Anthony Brooks led sold-out workshops—“The Essence of Scenic Design” and “Costume Character Charades.” Mr. Brooks and Ms. Franklin were adjudicators for Thespys® events. Ms. Franklin, who also serves as the Secretary of the Maryland Thespians Executive Board, oversaw the festival’s registration and organization. Charles Johnson, Choral Director and performing arts teacher, and Everett Lum, technology and engineering teacher, served as chaperones who helped represent Bullis’s dedication to the arts.

Attending the Thespys® is an incredible opportunity for our students to take center stage, develop their craft, and be recognized for their talent and hard work. The future is bright for our thespians, and we can expect incredible performances on the Bullis stages in 2023-2024.

Maryland State Thespian Festival


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