Students win awards for performances at Lenaea Theatre Festival


Theater students participated Feb. 10  in the Lenaea Festival in Folsom,on Feb. 10. A total of 12 students divided their performances in one act, two duo scenes, two monologues, three musical solos and one costume design competition.

The Lenaea Festival, one of the largest theatre festivals in the nation, offers opportunities to perform in front judges to help students in high school theatre programs by strengthening and encouraging their skills.

Vivian Miszti has attended the festival for the past three years. After only performing in a one act performance for the past two years, she decided to perform a duo scene, “Heartless,” with classmate Gabe Taggard.

Their scene captures the relationship between a couple, Ava and Collin. After Ava finds out she needs surgery, she is informed that her heart is too weak to go through with it. She feels as though she has no quality of life, as she is trapped in her hospital room and tied to her life support. When Collin learns she wants to pull the plug, he selfishly begs her not to, but understands her reasoning. Their emotional scene ends with the Collin saying, “you’ll always have my heart Ava, even when you can’t have your own.”

“We got nothing but such positive feedback and it made me feel great about myself and my acting,” Miszti said.

After watching her fellow peers win medals the past three years, she was shocked to receive a bronze medal.

“Working with Gabe was awesome and I was so proud that we gave off such a great performance together, but I did not expect to win a medal at all. It felt like an accomplishment that I have an actual medal for my acting and it makes me feel great about myself,” Miszti said.

“Heartless” was written by Taggard. He said it took 30 to 40 minutes to write, while editing took place over a few weeks.

“The writing was easy. The editing was hard. It was hard going back over my writing and being critical of my own work. It’s easy for someone to look at two similar sentences and pick which one fits better if they didn’t write it. But when you write those sentences yourself, you have an emotional connection with the words. That makes it hard to edit your own work,” Taggard said.

While constructing this story, Taggard kept in mind each word would be acted out. He picked specific words and sentence structure, coordinating it with his and Miszti’s voice inflections.

Another performance that won an award, was Valerie Okamoto’s musical theatre solo. She sang “Blue Hair,” a song from “Black Suits,” a musical by Joe Iconis.

“I won the Respondents Choice Award, which means that you impressed the judges with how much you adapt and take direction with your performance. It’s kind of like a potential award,” Okamoto said.

The Lenaea Festival has impacted Okamoto in different ways including her acting and making her friendships stronger.

Okamoto said, “I learned a lot from this experience, especially from the amazing respondents who gave me great advice. It was great to go to the workshops that were offered. It also brought me closer to the people I got to work with. I was able to meet a bunch of new people from other schools too. Everyone there was super nice and welcoming.”