Thespian Festival offered a variety of new acting skills for students to learn and improve

The Thespian Festival was held Jan. 6-8 in Wichita, KS. Eleven students attended this event and five came home with a first place win in an improv competition


At the annual state Thespian Conference on Jan 8, thespian troupe #7718 first place state winners are pictured. Along with students and gifted facilitator Inga Kelly. Photo by MVHS Theater

Julia Coacher and Abigail Troilo

The Kansas Thespian Festival was a three day event held from Jan. 6 – 8 in Wichita. Students had sessions from 9:00 a.m.until 11:30 p.m. Eleven students from Mill Valley attended this year’s festival with at least 25 other school districts participating.

Gifted services teacher, Inga Kelly was the sponsor that attended this event with the Thespians students. Unlike previous years, performing arts teacher Jon Copeland asked Kelly to fill in for him this year so that Copeland could stay home with his wife who was post-surgery. Kelly was excited to have this opportunity to get to know this group of students better.

“My favorite part was just getting to know some of our Mill Valley students better because, again, I’m not actually the theater teacher but they are people that I actually saw perform in “The Music Man” and I told them they became real people to me,” Kelly said. “We just got to create those relationships and now those are continuing to grow which is really neat.”

One attendee of this event was sophomore Aiden Ferguson. Ferguson described the Thespian Festival as “an actor convention.”

“Actors are internationally recognized as a thespian and can go to an event to learn different things and learn new things about being an actor,” Ferguson said. “It’s broken up into two different things which are entertainment and learning,” Ferguson said. “ We get to watch plays put on by groups that were recognized by thespians and then we also get to learn different things.”

Within this festival, different workshops are offered for students to choose from. Some of the options that are open for students to learn more about what they are interested in consist of makeup, dance, and improvisation.

On Jan. 8 The Thespian Troupe #7718 is pictured winning the competitive improv at the annual Kansas State Thespian Conference. Pictured are seniors Allison Rader, Christine Turner, along with juniors Asa Esparza, Carter Harvey, Brayden Heath, and Reece Moulthrop. Photo by @MVHS.Theater

“I saw everything from puppetry, to makeup, to dance workshops, improvisation, and there were just all sorts of different things,” Kelly said. “Even technical workshops for people to do things behind the scenes, so [the diverse set of options offered]was really cool. I was really excited to see all the different ways that students could get involved and learn more about theater.”

Ferguson’s personal favorite workshop was the puppetry workshop.

“I really enjoyed the puppetry,” Ferguson said. “We learned the basic types of puppets which are shadow, body, string, and hand, and then we learned about the Muppet style puppets and how to operate those and all.”

Ferguson also enjoyed seeing plays and how they were produced by different schools.

“I have to say my favorite part was watching the plays because you got to see different schools, how they set up their own plays and how they felt like they could express themselves and it was just fun to watch different people develop different things,” said Ferguson.

Kelly saw the benefits students gained from this event and felt like it was a great opportunity in many aspects for these students.

“I think students gain so much [from this event],” Kelly said. I think it was just a chance to see what other schools are able to do. There was a chance to build friendships with people from other schools and it was a chance for students from Mill Valley to get to know each other better because we spent all the time on the bus on the trip to Wichita, had meals together, and hung out together. I think it was really exciting. One of our improv teams, they have late night events and we actually won first place in the improv event and so it was really fun to see.”

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