Thescon opens doors to all students

Students leave Thescon to head back to Atlanta after a two night trip. Thescon is an annual event that connects theater students across Georgia.

For the first time, non-profit organization Georgia Thespians opened Thescon to all students this year without a thespian requirement. This decision encouraged students of all skill levels to connect with Georgia’s theatre community.

Thescon is an annual theatre conference held in Columbus, GA. Students pay a fee in order to attend and stay in a hotel for two nights. Typically, students are required to be Thespians to attend. A thespian is a student that has taken theatre classes and at least one after-school theatre based activity.

Georgia Thespians hosts Thescon every year and meets with teachers around the state to make important decisions about the conference. This year, theatre teacher Jake Dreiling said that the Thescon requirement changed for all schools in attendance due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We did it because we wanted to make sure the numbers were okay during the pandemic,” Dreiling said. “It was a great idea to have non-thespians go and see what it’s like, but I also feel there’s something really awesome about committing to be a thespian.”

Typically, once a student becomes a thespian, a variety of opportunities are available at Thescon. This year, these opportunities were available to all students whether they were Thespians or not.

Many high schools volunteer to put on their own renditions of productions at Thescon. Junior Wesley Stewart enjoyed one school’s rendition of Spamalot.

“Spamalot was the best of the best because it was so funny and it really caught me off guard,” Stewart said. “I thought it had to do with food or something, but I was surprised in a good way.”

Milton High School performed their rendition of Cirque Bivio, a production in which aerial silks and a seesaw were used to thrill viewers with circus tricks. Junior Isabel Neuman said it was her favorite production.

“Cirque Bivio was my favorite because I just can’t wrap my mind around the fact that it was done by a high school,” Neuman said. “It totally blew me away, I didn’t expect to see a whole seesaw on stage.”

While some prefer productions and performances, a variety of workshops are also offered to Thescon attendees. Students and teachers can choose from dance, special effects, tech, acting and several other workshops. Stewart said he unexpectedly ended up liking Fosse and Fabulous, a workshop inspired by American dancer Bob Fosse’s distinct interpretive dance style.

“My favorite was Fosse, even though I thought I was going to quit halfway through,” Stewart said. “I was terrible compared to everyone else, but I eventually got the hang of it and had more fun when I actually tried to dance.”

As many activities as Thescon offers, it brings students together and creates a safe space for everyone on campus.

“Meeting new people was one of the best things about Thescon,” Neuman said. “We’re all there because we love theatre, but we also have specific interests that we can do in our own workshops.”

Stewart agrees that Thescon has a comfortable and welcoming community.

“I really loved the people there; it was such a lovely community and everyone kind of knew each other,” Stewart said. “This trip definitely solidified friendships.”

At Thescon, thespians also have the option to compete to perform in a closing showcase. This year, junior Bee Walker and senior Brady Stroppel were the first thespians from Midtown to perform at the closing showcase. Walker described the showcase as a “highlight of the trip.”

“The showcase performance was absolutely insane and I never expected it to happen,” Walker said. “It was definitely the most people I’ve ever performed for so it was such a milestone.”

Walker and Stroppel performed a duet of “Barbara 2.0” from Beetlejuice the Musical, causing an eruption of applause each time they harmonized or belted.

Dreiling said he enjoyed Midtown’s representation in front of over 4,000 students from high schools across the state.

“It was the first time in my 23 years of teaching that I had a musical group make the showcase,” Dreiling said. “I loved the fact that we were represented up there in front of so many people.”

With workshops, productions, competitions, a film festival and more, Dreiling thinks that Thescon offers students an opportunity to connect with the theatre community and see what other schools in Georgia are doing with their programs.

“One of the best things about it is that you get to see what other people in the state are doing with their theatre programs,” Dreiling said. “You just have to go and experience it; you’ll immediately get it.”