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Talon Theatre Thespians Shine at International Thespian Festival

Fourteen members of Talon Theatre Thespian Troupe #5524, Hannah Baker, Hannah Billups, Raiya Browning, Cameron Farmer, Katie Flores, Kennedy Kemmerer, KC King, Ella Lao, Hannah Loessberg, Alec Melosini, Brian Reyes, Emma Smith, Sydney Stone, and Griffin Webb joined over 4000 Thespians from around the world at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln for a week-long festival of workshops, performances and college auditions from June 19 – 25th. 

The highlight of the week came when members of the troupe performed an original play entitled SEMICOLON in the Carson Theatre.  SEMICOLON was written and performed by Raiya Browning, Hannah Billups, Hannah Loessberg, and Griffin Webb. The play deals with issues of teenage suicide and takes its name from the Suicide Prevention Organization called Semicolon. “A Semicolon is used when an author could have ended a sentence but chose not to. The sentence is your life.” The play was performed in the Free Style event at the International Thespian Festival.  Cameron Farmer directed and KC King stage-managed the production.

The genesis of the play was the IB Theatre Collaborative Project presented in February of 2016.  Subsequently, SEMICOLON went through five revisions before its public debut on the stage of the Carson Theatre at the International Thespian Festival. After the performance, tearful, moved audience members embraced the actors, thanking them for the powerful message of the play.  SEMICOLON was so well received, that troupe directors from around the country requested permission to perform it at their schools.  “At this time, I am working with Dramatics Publishing Company on copyright and possible publication of the play for other high schools, “ said Troupe Director Amy Luskey-Barth.

Emma Smith was one of six students selected to perform in PLAYWORKS out of hundreds who auditioned for the original play, FLOPSIE.  Talon Theatre rising junior, Ella Lao, was chosen as a member of the Improvisation Intensive. Twenty students in all were chosen out of 84 who auditioned.  

During the festival, six juniors auditioned and were called back to over 25 theatre programs including the University of Minnesota, St. Louis University, DePaul University, Webster University, Illinois Wesleyan University, Marquette, University of Nebraska, Ithaca, Wake Forest, Columbia College Chicago, Drake University, TCU, Loyola University of New Orleans, and Viterbo University.  Once called back to a school, future auditions may be waved and students may be offered scholarships should they apply to the program.  “This was an exceedingly successful round of auditions by Talon Theatre students,” said Luskey-Barth.   “The college audition process for theatre students is arduous. Students who audition and receive callbacks at the festival have a jump start. I am very proud of Hannah Billups, Raiya Browning, Hannah Loessberg, Alec Melosini, Brian Reyes, and Griffin Webb. They prepared 90 seconds of contrasting material, a seemingly impossible task, and emerged with a staggering number of callbacks.”

The International Thespian Festival is sponsored by the Educational Theatre Association.  Students take workshops from teaching theatre artists and see productions at four venues on the University of Nebraska Campus including the Lied Center.  Students stay in the dorms on campus and have the opportunity to do Individual Events in all areas of performance, technical theatre, and design.

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