Patriot Players SETC 2023 – An Extensive Retelling

Patriot Players SETC 2023 - An Extensive Retelling

Thomas Sigler, Contributor

Recently, The Bob Jones Patriot Players spent 5 days in Lexington Kentucky at the Southeastern Theatre Conference (SETC). This was truly an amazing trip for the entire group. The events of the competition week began on Tuesday, February 28th, when the Patriot Players presented an encore performance of Opening Night for the Diva to the public. The show was a great success and helped with cast fundraising as well as money to go towards future productions like the upcoming fall one-act and the 2024 spring musical.

The cast and crew departed for Lexington on the morning of March 1st. The majority of that day’s time was spent on the 5.5-hour drive to Lexington, and as they arrived in Kentucky, they were greeted by a horse race course right next to the welcome center. Kentucky was quite a beautiful state to see, especially because of all the horse stables and pastures there. 

On the 2nd, the group woke up and got to the Lexington Opera House first thing in the morning to watch their fellow Alabamians from Cullman High School compete with their production of The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. Everyone was impressed by their show and they truly represented the state of Alabama well. For the rest of the day, the students watched more shows as well as attended workshops, and explored the exhibit hall. The Exhibit hall was quite an amazing place to be. There were 100+ colleges and universities represented. Some of the highlights of schools I personally spoke with were The University of Alabama, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Auburn University, the University of Kentucky, and many others! There were also many commercial exhibitors and employers including Disney Live Entertainment, Disney Cruise Line, Cedar Fair, Concord Theatricals, Dramatic Publishing, and many many more. (Aside from the actual competition, this was personally my favorite aspect of the convention simply because of the wealth of information and people to network with in-person and all in one place.)

On the night of the 2nd, the cast ran through what is called a “glib” of the one-act in the lobby of the hotel. This is essentially when actors sit in a circle and do the entire show with only their lines (in full character). Then, the group went to bed early, anticipating the exciting day they had ahead of them. 

Friday came. It was the big day. The moment they had all been working towards for nearly eight months. They couldn’t have been more prepared, and although there were some issues that had arisen within the past few days, including the fact that it was raining, the cast and technical crew were ready to handle whatever problems came their way. At 9:00 AM, the cast and crew boarded the bus, already in full costume, hair, and makeup, and made their way to the absolutely stunning Lexington Opera House. The tech crew had already been there once a few hours earlier in order to load their set into a 10×10 square marked with tape on the stage. The cast went to dressing room areas under the stage to do their vocal warm-ups. After a few heartfelt speeches from the senior cast members, it was time to perform. There was a great crowd that filled over half of the 800-seat theater. The show was the absolute best they had ever performed it. In the end, their official time was 43:49, just over a minute below the maximum time allowed. 

They spent the rest of the day watching more shows, attending workshops, and exploring the Exhibit Hall. Everyone was very satisfied and relieved to have finished the performance aspect of the trip. Some of the best parts of Friday were times when they met people from other schools all over the Southeast. The relationships they got to build were truly what made this trip special, but the best was still to come!

Saturday was their day of fun and celebration. In the morning they attended a few workshops at the convention center, but then the group split up, one group going to a large indoor arcade/theme park and the other to a local mall and then back to the hotel for some rest and preparation for the 74th SETC Awards Gala and Banquet, the biggest event of the SETC week. 

Everyone got dressed up and all the students from the Secondary Festival gathered in a room to receive some of the smaller-scale awards. During this ceremony, BJHS received both the “Best Costumes” and “Outstanding Technical Excellence” awards overall. Two of their actors received the “All-Star Cast” award: Evan Willis (Lawrence) and Mikala Calhoun (Mildred). After that ceremony, the group walked across the convention center to the main Gala. They had dinner and then watched the top 5 high schools get recognition. Unfortunately, the Patriot Players did not rank in the top 5, and it was disappointing at first, but they all recognized that a trophy or award does not define the value of the production they brought and everyone rested easy knowing that they put their best feet forward.

Next year, SETC will be in Mobile, Alabama. The department has high hopes for its future but is also very grateful to have even had this opportunity in 2023, even if it does not repeat in the near future. Next up for the theatre program is their production of the play Puffs. Details are still being worked out for that show but you can trust Patriot Pages to keep you updated on news regarding that. You can also follow the official @BobJonesTheatre social media accounts on Facebook and Instagram for updates!