The 2020 State High School Thespian Conference, also known as ThesCon, took over the Tucker Theatre at Middle Tennessee State University over the weekend bringing over 1,000 theatre students and educators together for workshops and performances by both the Brentwood High School and Ravenwood High School theatre departments.

Only two schools had the opportunity to perform a full production during the conference, something that BHS Theatre Director Lisa Moody, whose students performed an amended production of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing on Friday night, said was an honor.

“Performing at ThesCon is such a great experience for the students. When you have a packed auditorium full of students who appreciate and enjoy theatre, the energy is intoxicating,” Moody said in an email. “It is such an honor to be chosen to perform. As artists what makes us good is our sensitivity; it also is our vice as we are always sensitive about our work and how it is received. Performing in front of peers helps to bolster confidence and credibility.“

Moody added that the experience and opportunity to both attend and perform at ThesCon is a great way to bring attention and excitement to BHS’ theatre department.  

“It was a unique opportunity that they will never forget,” Moody said. “I definitely think performing and taking so many students to conference will increase not only our numbers but the excitement among the theatre students. Freshman who might not have attended conference are so excited for next year and will share that excitement with students next year.” 

RHS Theatre Director and Fine Arts Department Chair Brian Kaufman said in an email that the experience was both an opportunity for his students to connect with theatre students from across the state, as well as an opportunity to take part in workshops that they normally would be able to experience. 

According to the ThesCon website, workshops included African Dance, Stage Combat, Stage Makeup and Design, Theatre Lighting and Playwriting.

“The students appreciate that we go to workshops like the conference to help further their craft whether it’s as a performer or a technician. They come back to school full of energy and excitement, which makes them eager to learn more and create a strong product for future performances,” Kaufman said.

Kaufman said that the added honor of having his students perform Is He Dead? on Saturday at ThesCon brought an energy to the conference and to his program that is unmatched. 

“The energy that is in the theatre is like no other. You have over 1,000 students and teachers that love theatre. It’s a celebration about the art and watching and hearing the audiences reactions to the jokes, specific character choices and plot twists is just so inspiring,” Kaufman said. 

Kaufman added that while the conference focused on the educational experience for students, it was also an opportunity for educators to bond and support the arts across both the county and the state. 

“In our county the theatre teachers are pretty tight, so it’s just nice to be supported by each other year round and we are always rooting for each other,” Kaufman said. “Love my theatre teachers at WCS!”

More information about ThesCon can be found here.

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