Theater program triumphs at State festival

Arohi Bhattacharya and Tara Kapoor

A California State Thespian Festival trophy stands in front of a theater poster. The Palo Alto High School theater program won nine awards at the competition from April 8 to April 10, marking an accomplished year of productions. Junior Katel Fong, who won first place for Lighting Design, said she was overjoyed with the recognition Paly thespians received. Fong said the awards were a result of not only individuals’ work but the collective theater program’s performances. “Everyone in our troupe is so talented and dedicated and seeing that talent and dedication be recognized and celebrated among a wider audience brings me immense joy and pride,” Fong said. (Photo: Anneke Salvadori)

Celebrating nine awards at the California State Thespian Festival on April 8 to 10, Palo Alto High School’s theater program is enjoying a victorious close to the school year.

As a result of the many wins, the Paly program placed in the top 1% of California high school theater programs. Junior Noah Boyarsky, who won first place in the Costume Design category, expressed both pride and surprise in the competition’s results.

“Putting together my competition piece was a lot of work, it probably took me at least 15 hours,” Boyarsky said. “But I’m really proud of the final result. I wasn’t expecting to get first place, but I’m really excited that I did.”

After stepping out of her comfort zone to design a show set for the first time for musical “Me & My Girl,” junior Sonya Meyers placed first in the Scenic Design category.

“I had never made a scenic design before, and didn’t really know what I was doing,” Meyers said. “I basically just put a ton of effort into it and just hoped for a good score.”

For her stage management in Paly’s fall show, “Something Wicked This Way Comes”, Meyers also won third place and echoed the sentiment of excitement over the hard-worked-for yet surprising wins. 

“Something Wicked was a really cool show, it was like an outdoor Shakespeare interactive thing,” Meyers said. “Stage managing was really fun because it was so different from a traditional theater stage management experience.”

Meyers said she was concerned about how judges would react to the unconventional show design but was pleasantly surprised with the result.

“When I was putting everything together, I was worried that I might have issues with not having a traditional promptbook [copy of script for stage management presentation] to show the judges,” Meyers said. “But, it was really fun because it was so different from a traditional theater stage management experience I would typically have in high school theater.” 

Senior Anneke Salvadori, who placed third in the Hair and Makeup Design category for her work in Paly’s spring show, “Peter and the Starcatcher,” said she was pleased with the in-person experience compared to last year’s virtual setting.

“Being able to compete in-person for the first time, especially being a senior, was really fun,” Salvadori said. “All of the judges were really friendly and it was really nice to be able to interact with each other like actual theater professionals.”

According to junior Katel Fong, who took first place in the Lighting Design category, she was especially excited to share her projects to see other’s viewpoints and receive constructive criticism for upcoming performances.

“I really enjoyed the opportunity to share my work with people outside my immediate community who are just as passionate about theater as me,” Fong said. “I also loved the feedback I received from the judges, which will help me improve my work in the future.”

The theater program’s next event is One Acts at 7 p.m. on May 12 and 13 and 3 p.m. on May 15.