SCAPA theater students from Lafayette High School won “Best Play” honors at the 2020 Southeastern Theatre Conference convention, along with awards for Overall Technical Excellence and Spirit of the Festival. According to Lafayette theater teacher Amie Kisling, this is only the second time in 71 years that Kentucky has won “Best Play” and the first time a Fayette County school has placed. The spirit award, given by the festival organizers and stage crew, recognizes the school with the most outstanding community, collaboration, professionalism, and “vibe” backstage and onstage.
In other honors, the judges’ All-Star Cast included Kieshaun Butts, Daniel Baesler, and Catron Arnold from Lafayette, and Joseph Ntakarutimana and Gabe Francis from Tates Creek High School. The Tates Creek group, directed by teacher Daniel Ellis, also won for Best Ensemble.
Each year, the SETC welcomes some 5,000 actors, singers, dancers, designers, technicians, stage managers, directors, playwrights, teachers, students, and professionals for 3½ days of workshops, keynotes, performance festivals, auditions, college recruiting, job interviews, and more. The 2020 convention ran from Feb. 26 to March 1 in Louisville, where the top two high school teams from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia competed for Southeastern bragging rights.
The Lafayette students presented “Failure: A Love Story” by playwright Philip Dawkins, and the Tates Creek ensemble performed “James and the Giant Peach,” based on the classic children’s book. In the fall, Lafayette and Tates Creek had taken first and second place, respectively, in the Kentucky Theatre Association’s 2019 high school festival and play competition.
DeAnn Stephens is out and about at Lafayette High School where rehearsals are underway for "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat."
Lafayette (SCAPA) and Tates Creek took first and second place, respectively, in the Kentucky Theatre Association’s 2019 high school festival and play competition, which featured a dozen top entries from across the Commonwealth. In addition, Frederick Douglass – in its first trip to state – won Best Newcomer honors with its production of “Antigone” under teacher Jason Meenach.
Lafayette students, led by theater teacher Amie Kisling, presented a 45-minute version of “Failure: A Love Story” by playwright Philip Dawkins; and Daniel Baesler received a nod for Outstanding Performance in a Supporting Role.
Tates Creek, under the direction of Daniel Ellis, performed “James and the Giant Peach,” based on the classic children’s book. “As a play, it is a creatively challenging endeavor,” Ellis said. “The students have worked incredibly hard on this production and built characters from the ground up. The play is full of energy and color, and it’s a roller coaster for them to perform. They do a phenomenal job!”
Judges’ selections for the state’s All-Star Cast included Kieshaun Butts of Lafayette, Reece Allen of Tates Creek, and Tanner Peck of Douglass.
The state festival ran Nov. 22-24 at the University of Louisville. Lafayette and Tates Creek will now represent Kentucky at the Southeastern Theatre Conference this winter, also in Louisville.
SCAPA Lafayette earned superior ratings at the Southeastern Theatre Conference’s 2019 convention, and the judges named Helena Schatzki and Jenna Reed as Best Actress and Kieshaun Butts and Daniel Baesler as Best Actor for their bilingual roles in “The Taste of Sunrise” (spoken English and American Sign Language). According to Lafayette’s director, Amie Kisling, this was the first time the state of Kentucky received Best Actress and only the third time for Best Actor. Lafayette also earned a judges’ discretionary award for Excellence in the Integration of Sign Language.
A group from Tates Creek High School also participated in SETC, with Natalie Hayslett selected for the All-Star Cast. Theater teacher Daniel Ellis, who directed “The Trojan Women,” said five of his students auditioned at the conference and received 155 total callbacks from colleges and universities. In addition, 17 Lafayette students auditioned for college admission and scholarships, receiving over 800 callbacks.
Along with the college expo and theater workshops, the FCPS students watched 19 plays from nine other states across the Southeast. “It was a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the art form of theater,” Kisling said.
The Southeastern Theatre Conference convention ran Feb. 28 through March 1 in Knoxville, where students from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia vied for the region championship. The top two teams from each member state, including Lafayette and Tates Creek for Kentucky, had qualified for the SETC competition.
Lafayette (SCAPA) earned Best Play honors and Tates Creek was first runner-up in the Kentucky Theatre Association’s 2018 high school festival and play competition, which featured a dozen top entries from across the state. Both groups will now represent Kentucky at a Southeast conference this winter.
Lafayette’s production of “The Taste of Sunrise” is a bilingual play that takes place in the mind and memory of the main character, Tuc, who explores the moral ambiguities of modern times and the cultural complexities of deafness with humor and compassion. “I could not be more proud of the work ethic and passion these young artists have shown,” said theater teacher Amie Kisling. “To learn this script in American Sign Language and embrace and celebrate deaf culture has made their performance one full of heart, and the storytelling grows with every performance.”
Tates Creek, under the direction of teacher Daniel Ellis, is presenting “The Trojan Women.” “Our students worked incredibly hard on this production – reblocking, revisioning, and studying practices from early Greek theater as well as Theatre of War,” Ellis said. “Many people would say the content of this production would be beyond high school students, but they have exceeded even their own expectations and grasp the work in a respectful and beautiful way.”
A group from Paul Laurence Dunbar High School also competed Nov. 16-18 in Madisonville, having advanced to state from the central region. Among individual awards, Lafayette’s Kieshaun Butts was named top male performer and Tates Creek’s Natalie Hayslett the top female performer in the state festival. The all-star cast included Helena Schatzki of Lafayette, Katherine DeBoor of Tates Creek, and Quiana Miller Walker of Dunbar.
What’s next? The Lafayette and Tates Creek groups will compete in the High School Theatre Festival during the Southeastern Theatre Conference’s 2019 convention, set for Feb. 28 through March 1 in Knoxville, Tennessee. They will vie for the Southeast title, facing the top two teams from each of the SETC member states: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia.
Three Fayette schools captured top honors in the Kentucky Theatre Association’s central region and qualified for the 2018 state festival competition Nov. 16-18 in Madisonville. SCAPA students from Lafayette High School placed first with “The Taste of Sunrise,” Tates Creek was runner-up with “Trojan Women,” and Paul Laurence Dunbar was third with “The Shape of the Grave.” In addition, three students made the Oct. 13 regional’s all-star cast: Kieshaun Butts of Lafayette, Natalie Hayslett of Tates Creek, and Lydia Sexton of Dunbar.
Groups from host Bryan Station High School, Henry Clay High School, Frankfort High School, and Woodford County High School also performed in the central region’s festival.
At the state conference, as many as 12 qualifying schools will present their 45-minute productions in front of their peers and a panel of judges as they compete for awards. Schools that did not advance are also encouraged to attend not only to see the other shows but also to take part in the exciting workshops and meet with representatives from area colleges and universities.
Welcome back to a new school year and a new season of Lafayette Theatre. We have a great lineup of shows and we look forward to seeing you in our audience. Students be sure to make note of audition dates and requirements! You won't want to miss being a part of our shows. Check out our 2018-19 Season and be sure to join us.
The Educational Theatre Association (EdTA) has selected 12 two-member teams of teaching artists and high school educators – including Lafayette’s Amie Kisling – to create a standards-based curriculum framework and instructional units in targeted areas of theater. The 2018 project, backed by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, supports the organization’s goal of providing high-quality professional development for its members and the field of theater education.
Kisling, who teaches in Lafayette’s School for the Creative and Performing Arts (SCAPA), will collaborate with Michael Bigelow Dixon, a retired associate professor from Transylvania University who now consults and coaches in Kentucky, Ohio, and Minnesota.
“I am thrilled to be working with Michael Dixon on a standards-based directing unit for the junior/senior level. We have had a few initial meetings, and the ideas and structures we are thinking about are so exciting,” Kisling said. “The opportunity to collaborate with a local teaching artist and create new ways of teaching theater is invaluable to growing as both a teacher and theater artist. I love a challenge, and I love to challenge my students. This project will do both!”
The 12 teams will receive web-based training and will convene July 12-15, 2018 in Cincinnati.
Amie Kisling, who teaches theater in SCAPA at Lafayette High School, was named Best Director at the 2018 High School Theatre Festival, which was part of the annual Southeastern Theatre Conference convention March 8-9 in Mobile, Alabama. In addition, Lafayette’s cast of “Alice in Wonderland” received superior ratings, students Walker Cody and Jackson Becker were selected for the all-star cast, and 14 juniors and seniors received 668 callbacks for college admissions and scholarships.
“My students were kind, responsible, mature, creative, brave, articulate, and generous artists who challenged themselves to do their best work and celebrated the work of so many other young artists,” Kisling said.
Each year, high schools groups that win at the state level compete at SETC for the regional title, and the two winning productions from each of the 10 SETC member states compete in the High School Theatre Festival. This region includes Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia.
The production of “Alice in Wonderland” by the School for the Creative and Performing Arts at Lafayette High School earned first-place honors and straight superior ratings at the Kentucky Theatre Association’s state conference Nov. 17-18, 2017 in Pikeville, and Jordan Vescio was selected for the all-star cast. This state-level win qualifies the SCAPA group to compete at the Southeastern Theatre Conference’s high school festival in Mobile, Alabama, in March.
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