Eighteen schools attend annual Sterling College Theatre Workshop

Students listening to teachers in theatre class on stage
Thursday, March 21, 2024

Over 250 high school students attended the 35th annual Sterling College Theatre Workshop recently. The event included two workshop sessions and a special matinee performance of the play Baskerville. Students from 18 schools from Lawrence to Liberal attended.

The event is organized each year by Sterling College Theatre and the Enrollment Services Office. The morning workshop sessions offered students the opportunity to go inside various facets of theatre such as: acting and characterization, lighting design, improvisation, stage combat, musical theatre singing, dance, among others. A total of 10 workshop topics were offered. All workshops were presented in a hands-on way so that students could get involved. This year several workshop topics were offered at two levels: beginners and intermediate so as to involve students who have had more experience than others. 

Workshops were led by Sterling faculty members Betsy Dutton, intermediate acting; Marisa Callan, musical theatre singing; and Brian Sechrist, stagecraft. Four current Sterling students led sessions including Rachel Thomson, dance; Noah Svaty, lighting; and Brayden Keeler, wigs and hair.  

McPherson High School theatre director Greg McGlynn led the Stage Combat workshop while Lex Rhoadarmer, Clearwater High School, led the Improvisation workshop. Both McGlynn and Rhoadarmer are Sterling College Theatre alumni. Recent theatre alumni Torey Wilson and Ardynn Hershberger led the beginning acting session and costume session respectively. Guest artist Erin Stansbury led the workshop on creative props and incorporated the “hound” she designed and built for the Baskerville production.  

“We could not have been more pleased with the turn-out and the response from our student audience,” said Dutton. The production was directed by visiting theatre faculty member Betsy Dutton and featured a cast of 19. “I chose this play because of the mix of comedy and mystery,” said Dutton. “The school matinee was by far our best audience for the show,” Dutton said. “They caught everything and really appreciated the comic moments as well as the mystery.” 

Teachers and students were surveyed about their experiences following the Workshop Day. One enthusiastic Workshop student responded to the survey saying, “I loved the energy everyone had. I really like acting and performing, but I'm always afraid I'm going to make a fool of myself. I'm afraid people will see me as weird. Then. I saw all of the actors with lots of energy, silly accents, and loud voices. It was fantastic and makes me feel more confident. I want to do theatre!” 

Besides the schools already mentioned other schools attending the Theatre Workshop Day included: Campus High School, Goddard High School, Kingman High School, Trinity Catholic High School – Hutchinson, Emporia High School, Abilene High School, Goddard-Eisenhower High School, Hesston High School, Mulvane High School, Lyons High School, Fairfield High School, Sterling High School, and Victory Village Christian School. 

Three junior high groups also attended this year – Prairie Hills Middle School from Buhler; Holcomb Junior High from Holcomb and Southwest Middle School from Lawrence. 

Sterling College Theatre’s last mainstage show of the year will be the popular Stephen Sondheim musical Into the Woods which will be staged Friday and Saturday, April 12 and 13 at 7:30 p.m. and at 2 p.m. on Sunday April 14. in Culbertson Auditorium.

Sterling College is a Christ-centered, four-year college located in Sterling, Kansas, with a mission to develop creative and thoughtful leaders who understand a maturing Christian faith. For more information, visit www.sterling.edu.