ENMU's Theater department leading the charge on 2019's High School Drama Festival. 2020's Festival will begin Feb. 19. The Chase photo: Submitted
High school students throughout New Mexico and nearby Texas are invited to partake in the 65th annual High School Drama Festival at Eastern New Mexico University.
The festival will start on Feb. 19 and end on Feb. 22. The high school students will be performing in plays, featuring original films and participating in workshops organized by ENMU’s theatre students.
Marianna Medina, a senior at ENMU, is leading the theatre department in organizing the festival. “That’s the good thing about our department, and part of the reason I came here in the first place, is you get to try a little bit of everything, on the film and theatre side,” she said. “You write, you act, you learn technical aspects like lighting... so we try to bring that into Drama Fest.”
Working alongside the students is Jonathan Barr, a film professor and faculty advisor for the festival. “Schools come because their students specifically like the workshops, and while other festivals around the state are more about competition, this is more a sharing of knowledge.”
The annual festival allows high school students an outlet to express themselves and build efficacy, while interacting with people their age that are interested in performing arts and film.
Reflecting on one of his goals for the Drama Festival, Barr said, “I hope they make connections with other people who share their passions, that ignites their interest in the theatre and film, and to see that this is something you can do with your life, and you can come here and study it.”
While the purpose of the Drama Festival is not recruitment, it serves to demonstrate to students the support and resources that are available at ENMU.
“You know, they enjoy working with our students,” Medina stated. “And then we get to see them as freshmen, which is always a lot of fun, like now you get to run it!”
Barr commented on the positive environment ENMU provides for visiting students. “I’d say that High School Drama Festival is the safest place for them to express themselves because there is nothing but support,” he said. “It’s like a big love fest, and I think people come away with this confidence in themselves, in expressing themselves, that they have something to share with the world.”
This year’s Drama Festival will feature professional actress and director Michelle Tomlinson, who began her acting career in ENMU’s theatre department. Tomlinson works in Los Angeles, Calif. and has various acting credits which have earned her awards in the field of horror films. She will be assisting in the development of the festival workshops and providing students with information from her extensive real-world experience.
“We’re really happy to bring her back and show people what you can do when you get out there, and share her knowledge,” Barr said. “It shows that if you really put your heart into this, it’ll give back what you put in.”