“The Last Illusion” is Anything but Last

Maegan Baldwin, Writer, Site Editor

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This was the trip every theatre kid looks forward to. It was a time where they are engulfed in their art and passion, get to meet new people with the same interests, and get to explore a college campus all while getting to miss school. The State Trumbauer field trip is what all the hard work that first semester did leads to for drama students.

This year, State was at Troy University from December 6-7. Though Troy started off rocky with double booking their main stage, the theatre competition survived by being housed in their smaller Trojan Center Theatre. But with this change came an adjustment from previous years. The theatre sat approximately 300 people and there were over 2,200 attendees. So, to problem solve, each school got 60 tickets to hand out to whomever they choose and everyone else waited in lines to attend the plays that they wanted to see.

It was sad, though, that everyone didn’t get to see all the plays that they wanted to, but theatre kids know how to entertain themselves outside of shows. You could catch the musically talented either singing or jamming on an instrument, kids enjoying games (like the foot game, improv, what are the odds?, ext.), or you could choose to watch individual events that almost all attendees participated in.

Students performed I.E.s, or individual events, in front of judges. They could perform in a number of events ranging from classical to contemporary, solo to duet, male to female, and dramatic to classical. Among the acting I.E.s, there were also tech individual events. Tech I.E.s cover the full spectrum of technical theatre. Anyone who is technically inclined can enter events ranging from scene design, costume design, and make-up design to lighting design, sound design, and stage management.

Though everyone loves competing in I.E.s, the main focus of this weekend is the one acts. Over the course of the weekend, 16 one-acts were performed on the Tojan Center’s Stage, and the lines were always long. Though, the longest line was for Bob Jones performance of “The Last Illusion”

“The Last Illusion” was the last show to be performed during state. From the beginning, hopes and anticipation was high for everyone involved, and the cast and crew performed to the best of their ability. You could feel the energy from beginning to end.

Dwayne Craft, the writer and director of the play, shared that “it was the most amazing performance my cast had given. They were transcendent. The characters lived and breathed for me that day.”

After their amazing performance, the cast and crew walked out on stage in tears because they knew what they had just accomplished. It was a very surreal event to watch.

Emeline Earman, junior, shares her experience. “After the performance, the first minute we were in shock, then the tears came. Pretty much everyone in the cast was hugging and crying. We were all so exhausted, but we knew we did our best and it was the best feeling ever.”

She described the moment as pure elation.

After getting changed out of costume and following the tradition of dressing up, everyone headed to the awards ceremony, which was oddly held in a basketball gym.

Our sister theatre program at James Clemens did well at state. Amy Patel, the theatre director, was awarded Teacher of the Year by her peers of other drama teachers, and her students brought home four trophies for their individual events.

Bob Jones also had a successful trip with being awarded a total of 18 trophies.

In Mary Davis’ beginning class, Seth Slayton, freshman, and Miles Strickland, sophomore, placed first for in Duet Comedic Pantomime on the novice level. In the same category, Bryan Worley, freshman, and Micah Persons, freshman, placed second. Another beginning student, Basia Marotta, freshman, placed second for her Female Solo Dramatic Musical Theatre piece on the novice level.

In Mrs. Davis’ intermediate class, Maggie Moore, freshman, was the only one to be awarded a trophy. She placed first for her Solo Comedic Contemporary Acting Piece on the novice level.

In Dwayne Craft’s advanced class, Alison Bailey, junior, and Kristen Mitchell, junior, placed third for their Duet Dramatic Reader’s Theatre piece on the varsity level. For the Duet Comedic Duet Reader’s Theatre Novice catagory, Dillan Slaughter, freshman, and Riley Hughes, freshman, placed second.

In Mr. Craft’s advanced production class, Jonny Smith, senior, and Jesse Tollison, junior, took home the first place trophy for their Duet Acting Contemporary Comedic piece on the varsity level. Olivia Skillern, senior, placed second for her Solo Dramatic Contemporary Acting individual event on the varsity level. Another advanced production student to place was Megan McDowell, senior, for her script that was entered in the Playwriting category on the novice level.

“The Last Illusion” itself placed four actors–Olivia Skillern (senior), Marcus Mack (senior), Jonny Smith (senior), and Kayla Peele (junior)–in the All Star Cast. It also brought home trophies for Best Costumes in a One Act and Best Technical Direction in a One Act. But most importantly the cast and crew of “The Last Illusion” brought home the First Place Best in Show trophy for the One Act competition. (watch Bob Jones’ reaction to winning first place.)

This is the third year in a row that Bob Jones has placed in the top two at state and have been awarded the opportunity to attend the South Eastern Theatre Conference. This year SETC will be held at the University of South Alabama in Mobile.

To be part of this successful program is something special in itself.

Megan McDowell, senior, shares that “[it’s] flipping amazing [to be part of this program]! I feel so blessed that I moved here three years ago and got tobe part of something this great!”

Trevor Thomas, senior, who is new to the program believes, “it’s pretty amazing to be part of a program that has done so well in the past and still flourishes to this day.”

Also, when asked what is the best part of Bob Jones program, Maggie Moore, freshman, shares, “the people and the passion [are the best]. I have become myself because everyone is [their own self]. I love the passion for theatre and everyone has a place.”

With this love and passion in a theatre program, I and many others have hope for their future.

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