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Schoolcraft Drama Department Invited to Perform at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival

By Morgan Macfarlane

Out of hundreds of high schools that are nominated and apply to perform at The Edinburgh Fringe Festival, only about 40 American and Canadian high schools are selected. Schoolcraft High School has now become one of them.

The Schoolcraft Drama Department goes through The American High School Theatre Festival organization (AHSTF), which partners with the Fringe Festival itself. Each year, professional theatre groups, large community theatres and university theatre departments are asked to nominate a high school department for consideration to perform at the festival.  The nominated schools are then asked to submit an application which includes current and past works, the demographics of the students, and the philosophy of the department and directors, said Christine Sargeant, director of the Schoolcraft Drama Department. While Sargeant is not sure who nominated them, she is looking to find out through the AHSTF.

“The Fringe is huge, its performers represent all aspects of performing arts from traditional and musical theatre to dance, music, vocalists, and spoken word.  It is truly international, and we may see performers from the West End theatre district of London, Broadway, even Hollywood as well as local, amateurs and other high schools.  It is a non-stop chain of performances in over 150 venues in Edinburgh, Scotland,” said Sargeant.

The Schoolcraft Theatre Department will be performing Pippin at The Fringe Festival and on the Schoolcraft Performing Arts stage in March.  Sargeant believes the biggest hurdles they face  will be bringing 25-30 cast and crew, simply because of how much it costs per person to travel. In addition, this year’s seniors will not be able to participate. They will still be invited to come to Scotland as ‘family members’ Sargeant said, “They really are a part of our family.” This does mean recasting for their parts. The show also has to shortened to 90 minutes with set-up and take-down included.

There are many things to be excited about, including the sightseeing in Scotland, and the chance to learn about its history and culture.  In addition, Sargeant looks forward to showing the group other styles and levels of performers.

“It is the chance to expose students to something new, different and exciting and to be a part of something so HUGE,” she said.  The group will be traveling to Scotland in August 2015. She explained that the groups are chosen so far in advance, because there is so much to prepare for financially and production wise. The AHSTF estimates that the cost per person to participate is about $6500. Sargeant allowed as how this seems like a lot, but it covers all transportation, accommodations, festival and sightseeing, a London West End show and most food.

To help start raising money to cover the cost, Sargeant is working with others to create a Drama Booster organization. Right now they are working to create the website and start brainstorming ideas for raising money.  “We are really just at the beginning of our journey here, and we have a long way to go, but with the support of our community and our drama families, I know we can fly all the way to Scotland!” said Sargent.

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