Thespian Troupe #5464 welcomes middle schoolers at annual workshops

TOWAMENCIN-This past Friday night, the auditorium was bustling with dozens of middle schoolers as Thespian Troupe #5464 held their annual Middle School Workshops.

Every year, the workshops give Penndale, Pennbrook, and Pennfield students a chance to get a taste of what high school theater is like by participating in three of the offered workshops; Musical Theatre, Theatre Criticism, Getting Into Character, Improv, Dance, Theatre and Thespians 101, Backstage, and Costumes. 

In the “Musical Theatre” workshop, students learned an excerpt from “Story of my Life,” the ensemble audition piece for ‘Shrek.” In “Theatre Criticism,” advice on how to deal with criticism and not getting desired roles was given. 

In “Getting into Character,” middle schoolers did an exercise in which they were given a character and had to act as that character in a dinner party scene. In “Improv,” students played games such as “Park Bench” that taught them how to react in the moment and improve their improvisation skills. 

The “Dance” workshop taught students a section of the routine from “What’s Up, Duloc?,” which all high schoolers had to learn in “Shrek” auditions. “Theatre and Thespians 101” explained all aspects of high school theatre and what “thespian-ism” is really like. The “Backstage” workshop explained all of the jobs that happen behind the scenes and showed students the sound booth and backstage areas. Lastly, the “Costumes” workshop showed the middle schoolers the costume room and had them create hats.

“Middle School Workshops help the middle school students to learn more about the high school and what theater is like here. We can give them advice about theater and just how to navigate high school in general,” Costumes workshop co-leader Lizzie Martin said.

“I learned to NEVER give middle schoolers glitter…ever,” Costumes co-leader Cyarra Cobbs joked.

After students attended their three chosen workshops, everyone gathered back in the auditorium for a Q & A session. High school thespians shared thoughts on what their experiences have been like in NPHS Theatre, and answered questions such as “Do you guys use lockers?” and “How hard is it to balance theatre and schoolwork?” NPHS Theatre Director Mrs. Roney was still out on medical leave, so Thespians also took time to explain the different theatre classes (Intro to Acting, Advanced Acting, Drama Major, and Designing for the Stage) that Roney teaches.

“The most important thing middle schoolers can learn about high school theater is all the friends you make along the way. It doesn’t matter if you’re an actor, or in stage crew, or what have you, because the friends you make are the best,” said junior Rojin Mortazavi. 

There is more of a sense of community here than in the middle schools, and you really get to love and hate each other throughout the course of a show.”

— Rojin Mortazavi, NPHS Junior

Often times, seeing the sense of community and family that exists in the auditorium and around F41 confirms to middle schoolers that they want to continue theater throughout their high school years. 

“Middle School Workshops to me are very important. For me, it was a central point in my theater career, because it’s what made me decide that I wanted to continue theater in high school. Seeing the sophomores the year I was in 9th grade, who I had worked with on prior productions, up there teaching, leading, inspiring, and doing cheesy little skits. It made me realize that I did’t want to give theater up,” Thespian Troupe #5464 President Tori Quinn reflected.

 “I think it’s important that the middle schoolers get the chance to get a taste of what high school theater is like because they get to see how much of a family we are and how much we care about each other. We all work together to create this night for them,” Quinn added.

You get a sense of how everyone works together to put on a production. It’s a way of sharing our experiences and sharing what we care about to the younger kids so they know that they can do this in the future.”

— Tori Quinn, Thespian Troupe #5464 President

Continuing a Workshops tradition, the night ended with all the middle and high schoolers coming together to perform the iconic Popcorn Dance.

“I thought the middle school workshops were so fun this year! It was an awesome way to interact with the kids from the other schools and be able to talk to all the high schoolers. The whole night was an amazing opportunity,” Penndale 9th Grader Makenna Blattner concluded.


Thespian Troupe #5464 Membership Co-Coordinator Bridget Sweeney on what Middle School Workshops means to her.