UW-Green Bay to host Wisconsin Interscholastic Theatre Festival – The Press
By Janelle Fisher
City Pages Editor
Theater students from across Wisconsin will flock to UW-Green Bay next weekend to participate in the Wisconsin Interscholastic Theatre Festival.
“The Wisconsin Interscholastic Theatre Festival is an annual event that invites schools from all over Wisconsin to gather and showcase the work of students and their theatre programs,” Chair/Managing Director of UW-Green Bay Theatre and Dance said. “We are hosting about 1,300 middle and high school students over three days where they will take part in workshops and showcase the one-acts their schools have been working on this fall. It’s a highly energetic and wonderfully creative exhibition of work, and we’re honored to be hosting this year.”
UW-Green Bay Theatre Professor Alan Kopischke said the festival provides an additional opportunity for students to get feedback on their work — but benefits abound for students even if they are not performing at the festival.
“High school students have been rehearsing their one-act productions all fall and getting feedback from folks at district and sectional gatherings,” he said. “Many have been selected to progress to the state gathering and get further feedback and recognition. But many schools are attending without a one-act they are presenting. It’s a massive opportunity for high school theatre students to gather with one another and share their love and passion for theatre and for learning about theatre.”
Ultimately, Campbell said the goal of the festival is to celebrate the performing arts.
“This festival is a celebration of work as opposed to a competition,” he said. “This festival eliminates the competition component and privileges each production based on its own merits. Schools, shows, and students are seen for who they are — not in comparison to another school. Theatre is a collaborative art and this festival embraces that ethos.”
While there is a contest component, Kopischke said the festival does not pit any performers against one another, but rather encourages a collaborative appreciation of everyone’s work.
“While they are all vying for recognition, none of that recognition comes at the expense of any other,” he said. “It is a celebration of the work and an opportunity to learn from watching others and from getting personal feedback.”
In addition to performances, there will also be opportunities for students to participate in workshops and build on new or existing skills.
“It’s kind of like Comic Con for live theatre. Performances and workshops galore,” Kopischke said. “A community of support and celebration between folks who love the same things.”
Campbell said there will be no shortage of things to do for attendees of the festival.
“It’s a whirlwind of activity,” he said. “We have two days of workshops, vendors, and activities on top of the one-act showcases where individual schools bring their one-act to our theatre to perform to other schools. We will have vendors in The Weidner foyer and other academic programs will have information tables and faculty members present to answer questions. Our guests are also going to be able to be in our spaces, see a special performance of our recent production of Measure for Measure, and for a short time, get to experience life on a college campus.”
While the festival happens every year, this will be the first in several years that it has been held at UW-Green Bay — and Kopiscke and Campbell said they are excited for the opportunity.
“UW-Green Bay is in rotation with other UW schools in hosting this, but we haven’t been able to do so in a number of years,” Campbell said. “We’re very excited because this is a rare opportunity for potential UW-Green Bay students to see our facilities, work with our students and faculty and engage with the campus in a highly impactful manner. To be able to showcase our campus and our program in this way is so much better than what we can do through traditional recruitment efforts.”
“It’s a huge responsibility to carry off all the logistics, but it is well worth it to be able to help nurture these students, give them fantastic learning opportunities, and enjoy the energy generated between our theatre students and the high school theatre students,” Kopischke said.
In addition to providing opportunities for students, hosting the festival also provides an opportunity for UW-Green Bay to showcase their theater program to prospective students.
“Selfishly speaking, I’m excited that we’ll be able to showcase our recent production of Measure for Measure,” Campbell said. “It’s a wonderful production and not one of Shakespeare’s more produced plays, so being able to offer this to festival attendees is really exciting. I’m also looking forward to having so many students see our spaces and work with our incredible theatre students. This integration is going to set the course for the future theatre practitioners and professionals. We’re training the next generation of creatives and will have a new group of students hot on their tails.”
“As Tom said, the opportunity to present our students’ work to hundreds of high school theatre students (and their teachers and some parents) is enormously satisfying,” Kopischke said. “I’ll also love being around the eager energy of those students soaking up all of the experience they can.”