BACT Acting Students Take Honors Long Distance

BACT Acting Students Take Honors Long Distance

Students in Bay Area Children’s Theatre’s Advanced Performers program triumphed over the constraints of the pandemic to wow the judges at this year’s Junior Theatre Festival Australia.

BACT’s Advanced Performers-6th to 12th graders from Alameda, Berkeley, Livermore, Oakland, Orinda, Pleasanton, and San Ramon-learned their routines online, recorded their parts individually in their own homes, and then competed long-distance online with winning ensemble work.

The young performers competed in two groups. One team took top honors for Outstanding Acting Performance for excerpts from Elf The Musical JR. The other won Outstanding Vocal Performance for excerpts from Madagascar – A Musical Adventure JR.

JTF Australia, the largest celebration of musical theater for young people in Australia, took place October 30 – 31 in Newcastle, NSW, Australia. Student groups were permitted to perform in person or digitally, depending on public health restrictions in their home locations. BACT was one of three American student theatre groups invited to compete in the festival-all, digitally.

As if it isn’t hard enough to learn the songs and the dance moves for a performance onstage, doing everything online adds unique challenges.

“The students had to be much more self-directed and had to work with technology because we weren’t all in the room together,” said BACT Artistic Director Khalia Davis, who directed the Madagascar team. “and we had to lean into the Zoom medium to make the performance better. We had 10 minutes to impress the judges, so we tried to tell the story, showcase different styles of songs and play with the Zoom medium to see what fun we could have.”

Davis has directed digital performances before, including the recent national production of A Kids Play About Racism. For Advanced Performer Director Amber Dyson, who steered the Elf team, this competition was the first opportunity to direct online.

“I felt that my existing relationships with the students made it easier to convey the vision for Elf Jr., and the adjudicators definitely picked up on the joy and hope that we wanted our performance to convey,” Dyson said. “I have to give a special shout out to Cicily Gruber, our amazing video editor-nothing would have been possible without her! “

Other BACT teaching artists who contributed to the winning performances include Choreographer Tiffany To (Elf excerpts) and Music Director Angel Adedokun (Madagascar excerpts).

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