Theater students earn awards at CETA competition

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Students in tech class prepare for the CETA competition.

Emma Newman staff writer

Winning awards in several categories, students competed in the California Educational Theater Association (CETA) competition on Jan. 16. 

For the competition, Brenner and Love worked together on a piece called Gruesome Playground Injuries, which involved sensitive topics like rape and self-harm. Despite the challenging nature of these topics, Love was glad that he participated in the play. 

“It was a very sensitive topic, and I’m glad that we worked on it,” Love said. “My teacher Kaz Chandler wanted to use us to work on a scene together so [when] we were free, we decided to do that. We got to do it for the competition, and I’m glad it worked out.” 

Schwartz wrote her own piece and performed it for her category. Her play was titled “Escape,” and the theme of the piece was her great-aunt’s journey of escaping from El Salvador after the Civil War. 

Schwartz created this piece because her TAW class performed pieces about a family member or friend who “went through an escaping experience,” which could extend from a breakup to an escape from one’s country. In these pieces, students used lines from the person who told the story, including “ands” and buts.” 

“We all talked about our own stories, and they’re all 100% true because we made sure we got the stories from them,” Schwartz said. “We use their own words.” 

For the technical portion of a one-act category, senior Rhiannon Carter, one of the participants, had a different experience because her team focused on non-acting aspects of production. For the play’s scenes, the team broke down every aspect, from lights to costumes to makeup. 

Despite thinking she did a “really good job” preparing for the competition, she was still surprised that her group won second place in its category. She was shocked because the competition was the first time her tech group had competed with a piece not intended for an audience. 

 “I didn’t know how [the competition] was going to go, what the differences would be,” Carter said. “Originally, when you go into a project you’re like, ‘What would the audience like? What will go over well with my peers and their parents and everyone who came to see the show?” Whereas, with this, we had to go into it thinking, ‘What is the best thing we can do?’ and ‘What will the judges like?’  which is a different experience.” 

Love was astonished when winning two individual awards, although he is honored to have received them. 

“I was very surprised,” Love said. “To be honest,  I just did the competition and had no expectations going into it, [but] I am very grateful to have this.” 

Although Love was happy to have won awards while competing, his favorite part of the competition was his interactions with other people, namely viewing other student performances and working with his theater teacher. 

  “I got to see the other schools perform, and it humbles me to see what’s out there in the world,” Love said. “Also, being able to do more scenes with my teacher Kaz is just always a good opportunity.” 

Schwartz enjoyed hearing the stories of other people’s families when they shared their escape stories. She also was unaware of her own great aunt’s full backstory, which was startling for her. 

“It…is very interesting to hear everyone’s stories because you never know much about a person and when [I] hear[d] these stories…I was in shock,” Schwartz said. “When I heard about my grandma [tell me my great aunt’s story], I was like, ‘Oh, I did not think this happened that’s a lot.’ I was learning the stories that I really enjoyed from this.” 

Carter also drew the most joy from the competitions through working with her classmates. For her, the best part of the competition was the bonding with her program, which she sees as very significant. 

“[It’s] a really big, important thing for us to work as a team and to get to know each other, which is very difficult over Zoom, so working in smaller groups really helped us do that,” Carter said. “I really enjoyed being able to get to know people better–not as well as we could, obviously, [when] we’re in person–but as good as we can.” 

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