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Sam Barlow Theater Students Excel at the Mt. Hood Conference Acting Festival

Jeff Schroeder
Sam Barlow’s theater students compete at districts!

The Mt. Hood Conference Acting Festival is a high school theater competition held once a year and consists of solo and duo acting. This year’s festival took place on January 6th at Sam Barlow. 

The competition consists of three rounds per person/duo. Conference rules state that each performance has to be content from published plays written for the stage. Solo actors must have two monologues that are three minutes long altogether, while duos have a five-minute time limit for their scene. Each round is evaluated by three different judges who either have a professional degree or experience in the theater world. The mechanics and acting of the performance are each scored on a scale of 1 to 10, and there is a possibility of getting up to 5 more points based on where the judge places you compared to other acts, leading to the highest possible score of 25. 

The acting festival provides students with an opportunity to get the experience of theater competitions. According to Jeff Schroder, Barlow’s theater teacher, the festival isn’t just about “being competitive but students doing their best and encouraging others, and (to) make everyone feel welcome.” Mr. Schroeder works with his students to create a fun environment while also prioritizing hard work.

The experience of performing for the different judges and getting their feedback allows students to improve their acting skills. Different students offer different perspectives based on whether they are a first year participant or a third year participant. Jade Matheny, a sophomore at Barlow, said, “What surprised me is the differences between the rooms and judges; some reacted, some didn’t, and some were in the middle.”

Izzy O’brien, a senior at Barlow who partook in three events, said that it was “Really fun! It helps you get the experience of theater competitions, (but) start with something small.” This was O’brien’s last acting festival, as a senior she said she’s going to, “miss the experience. This (festival) is something you do every year… you go through this experience together and that’s what I’ll miss the most is the community aspect of it.”  Sam Barlow’s theater program starts practicing in October. O’brien acknowledges all the hard work everyone puts in saying, “I don’t think people realize theater is more than just goofy theater classes. We take it seriously and have competitions for it. It’s really fun and theater is for anyone who enjoys having fun” 

There were a total of six schools competing in the festival, thirty solo acts and 15 duo acts were recognized. Out of the 45 awards or recognitions given 19 of them were awarded to Barlow’s participants, including the showcase winners Bella Gilmour & Ethan Thompson (duo) and Alissa Cohen (solo) who get to perform their scenes on February 9th at the Mt.Hood Conference One-Act festival at Clackamas Community College. Gilmour and Thompson won the overall showcase with a piece from the dark comedy “Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf” by Edward Albee, stating they chose it because they wanted an intense scene. When talking about duo  acting Thompson said, “It’s different working with other people. You have to get the timing right to make sure to get it (the scene) the right way.” Nevertheless, the duo enjoys doing it. They like working off of one another’s energy and focusing on the ’high stakes’ of the scene and the hope to win.

Alissa Cohen was the solo showcase winner with her two monologues, one from “Clue: On Stage” and a piece from “Children Of A Lesser God.” Using sign language, she creatively incorporated American Sign Language into one of her performances for “Children Of A Lesser God”. While this was only Alissa’s second time participating in the festival, her ten years of theater experience proved to be successful, as last year she was awarded in superior top 10%. 

Below there is a list of Sam Barlow’s recognitions from each category.

Honorable mention top 20%

Topaz Cheney & Camden Schroeder (Duo)

Lily Adams & Jack Kohler (Duo)

Calli Evans (Solo)

Bella Gilmour (Solo)

Lily Adams (Solo)

Samuel Brown (Solo)

Superior top 10%

Ania Vilius & Spencer Neighorn (Duo)

Jonathan Matheny & Emma Nuttal (Duo)

Nico Spillet & Joslyn Williams (Duo)

Emma Nuttall (Solo)

Spencer Neighorn (Solo)

Izzy O’brien (Solo)

Camden Schroeder  (Solo)

Kylise Trevino  (Solo)

Mason Alley  (Solo)

Nico Spillet  (Solo)

Topaz Cheney (Solo)

Showcase Winners

Bella Gilmour & Ethan Thompson (Duo)

Alissa Cohen  (Solo)


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Tymber Sandvig
Tymber Sandvig, Social Media Editor

Hey, I am Tymber Sandvig, I’m a senior and this is my second year on the banner. Outside of school a few of my hobbies include painting, baking, and making jewelry.

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