Middle Schoolers Step Into the Spotlight at Annual Thespian Workshops

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TOWAMENCIN – Dozens of theatre-loving middle schoolers filled the North Penn Auditorium this past friday as Thespian Troupe #5464 hosted their annual Middle School Workshops. The students kicked off their night with a tour of the building, and then watched an informative, albeit cheesy, skit about the rules and expectations for the night.

Several days before the workshops, all of the middle schoolers decided which 3 workshops they wanted to attend. They could choose from Getting Into Character, Improv, Dance, Backstage, Theater Nerds Against Nerves, Musical Theater, and BC/EFA.

The dance workshop taught students a section of the ‘Voulez-Vous” routine that high schoolers had to perform in Mamma Mia! Auditions. In improv, students played games such as “I Love You” and “Park Bench” that taught them how to adapt and react in the moment. The musical theatre workshop taught the middle schoolers ‘Song of Forgetting’ from the musical Next to Normal. The BC/EFA workshop covered all aspects of high school theatre and what ‘thespian-ism’ is like. The Backstage tour showed students parts of the stage that are unseen to the typical eye. In the Getting into Character workshop, students did just that: they were given a character and challenged to perform mini skits. And finally, the Theater Nerds Against Nerves workshop talked to students about the difficulties of performing in front of large crowds and challenged them to create dances that were performed in front of the group.

Connor Niszczak
Rebecca Gomes, Maddy Burk, and Sara Conley lead their workshop in a performance of ‘Song of Forgetting”.

“I’ve always thought the Middle School Workshops was a great startup to meeting the other students from the other middle schools as well as the opportunity to improve my fears or doubts with my theatre skills. That’s why Middle School Workshops is an amazing event to be able to work on how awful my dancing is, or how nervous I am on stage. Being able to see that improve in the middle schoolers is amazing. Just by teaching them allowed me to see how nervous they were in the beginning to how open and ecstatic they are to be a part of theatre,” voiced Improv workshop leader Mary Catherine Le.

“It is great to get the middle schoolers involved with everything surrounding NPHS theatre, because the more involvement the better,” added Theater Nerds Against Nerves leader Rojin Mortazavi.

The evening ended with performances from each of the workshops and some of NPHS’ Thespians. Maddy Burk performed the song “What’s the Use of Wonderin'” from the musical Carousel. Shannan Wenzel performed two monologues: one from Agnes of God and one from All’s Well That Ends Well.

Next, a Q and A session opened up for middle schoolers and their parents to ask any questions they might have about theatre or high school life in general. They asked things such as “Is swimming as bad as it seems?” and “What is life like as a high school thespian?”. Thespian Troupe President Sammi Stec made sure to debunk the common myths of a fourth floor K-pod and third floor pool. Theatre Director Andrea Roney then gave a very thorough explanation of North Penn Theatre, talking about the differences between theatre and thespian, the plethora of theatre classes, and what the theater guild is.

Connor Niszczak
Thespians pose while preparing for the first workshop to begin.

To honor tradition, the night concluded with a performance (and inevitable encore) of the iconic Popcorn Dance.

”I taught a workshop for the first time, and I’m a sophomore, so it was different for me. It was really cool to see what the middle schoolers can do and all the potential they have and will bring up here to the high school next year,” voiced Improv leader Keenan Washington.

”The middle school workshops were a blast! It was so much fun to not only interact and learn from all of the different directors, but also from all of the current high school students. The environment was amazing!” concluded Penndale 9th Grader Jack Bachman.

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