Oakville Thespians Hit KC

After two weeks of luxurious winter break, we (Grace Foley and Bella Moss) departed from the Kirkwood train station toward Kansas City, Mo., for the 2023 Missouri Thespian Conference. The trip lasted from Jan. 4-7, and Oakville had four representatives in attendance. Those representatives included ourselves along with Samantha Brummett and Helen Murvihill. Due to this being the current director’s first time in attendance as a chaperone, Oakville Theater Director Isabelle Zurcher decided to limit the trip to only the senior ITS officers. However, in the coming years, the trip will be opened up to more of Oakville’s thespians.

The conference consisted of 10 workshops, each led by a different professional within the field. These workshops focused on acting, musical theater, costume design and other technical components in the theater, and each night was concluded with a mainstage performance. Thursday night’s performance was a play entitled “Girls Like That,” performed by Maplewood Richmond Heights. On Friday we saw “You’re a good man Charlie Brown,” performed by Macon High School. Both shows were a huge success and showed off some of the best of Missouri high school theater. 

My first workshop was called Centers of Being, led by Matt Schwader Harbor of Avila University. The workshop was centered around understanding where different emotions live in the body, and how to access those emotions in order to entirely become a character. The next workshop I attended was improv based, led by professional stage actor Ed Reggi. Reggi led us through an improv game in which we lined up and created different scenarios in large groups, learning when to stop a scene and start a new one and learning to feel comfortable jumping into a scene, while also going along with the natural flow of the scene. My next notable workshop was about auditioning, where Laura Enstall explained how to stay calm and be prepared for auditions. My final workshop was entitled Beyond Grotowski’s Cat, presented by Erin Carr. This one was the most significant to me, as we explored the connection between mind and body. Carr led us as we freely moved throughout the space, allowing the movements of our bodies to inspire stories and characters within our minds. I learned a great deal about understanding where my emotions come from, and how to better control my emotions while acting.



A few workshops I attended included Principles of Direction, Elements of Lighting design, Tools and Apps of Tech design, a tech forum…twice, and Standing Out in Auditions. Just to name a few. I went to so many more, but these are the workshops I gained the most knowledge from. I focused primarily on technical theater workshops, because that is my primary concentration in theater. In the tech forum, I was able to discuss issues and occurrences in my theater with other stage managers and technical theater students. Generally, the interaction I was able to have with my peers was so valuable and so refreshing. The whole experience really strengthened my passion for theater so much more than I thought possible. And let me tell you, I love theater. So much. But besides the technical workshops, which is what I am most comfortable with, I attended some other workshops that were a little different. The workshop Beyond Grotowski’s Cat that I attended with Grace was so intriguing. I had never been exposed to physical theater, and the instructor was so knowledgeable and had so much experience that it made the whole experience so intriguing and immersive. It was this class that really forced me out of my comfort zone, and I really valued that I had the opportunity to force myself into something I never would have considered participating in. Overall, I made friends, learned so much valuable knowledge, made fantastic memories and strengthened my relationship with not only my peers and director, but also with the art of theater. I am so overwhelmingly grateful I was able to attend this amazing conference.



With low transportation staff, as well as cuts to funding for school field trips, us students had to pay for transportation, food, admission and housing all on our own. We had a short amount of time to get in the payments we had due, so there was really no time for fundraising of any kind. In the future, hopefully there will be more opportunity for fundraising, but there is another core issue present here. Trips like this one are so important for young students, especially performing arts students. Conferences, conventions and other gatherings like THESCON are so key for students pursuing theater. They give students like us the chance to learn from professionals who work in the field frequently and can give guidance. Workshops like the ones we attended help us hone our skills, as well as attain new skills and knowledge. It is such a remarkable opportunity to attend events like this, and that is why it is so important that schools do everything in their power to help support trips and allow students to seize every opportunity possible.


That being said, step out of your comfort zone and take advantage of every opportunity that crosses your path. The memories and experiences we gather in school are so important, but you shouldn’t limit those experiences just to the classroom. If you can, you should.