Fremont, CA—For two days each year as the calendar turns to March, Ohlone College’s campus is overrun with theatrical performers from high schools across the state. Rehearsal areas pop up in every open space on campus as the sounds of Shakespeare and Broadway show tunes mix with the application of stage makeup while students prepare for their upcoming shot on stage.
Entering its 24th year, the Ohlone College High School Theatre Festival will take place on March 16-17 and is hosted by the Ohlone Theatre & Dance Department and co-sponsored by the Associated Students of Ohlone College.
With over 1000 students participating from more than 34 different high schools from all around the Bay Area – and as far away as Grass Valley, Hollister, and Los Angeles, the Festival is one of the largest of its kind in California. “These are the next generation of artists in theatre, dance, and film and Ohlone is proud to be able to celebrate and enrich their development,” said Ohlone professor and Festival organizer Michael Navarra. “I've never seen so many young people excited about theatre in one place.”
A huge effort is made by many individuals to plan and run the festival. Support for the High School Theatre Festival requires 40 high school teachers, 100 judges, and 100 Ohlone student and staff coordinators. “It is incredibly exciting to see the dedication and enthusiasm these young theatre artists bring to their craft,” said Festival Coordinator Tamara Cooper.
Students compete for 100 awards in 35 categories in performance, improvisation, dance, and technical theatre. The designs in dramatic, musical, contemporary, or classical theater productions are put on by the students. Professional theatre artists from all over the Bay Area serve as judges to provide feedback and support for the students' work.
Three top awards are given to high schools with the most points scored: the Festival Sweepstakes for the highest cumulative score, the Judges Sweepstakes for the school that receives the highest average points per entry, and the Tech Sweepstakes for the highest total score for tech and design. The Festival is designed to assist young theatre artists in furthering the development of their craft in front of a live audience and in front of judges from the industry. Additionally, it provides a venue for students to showcase their talents and compete against their fellow peers. Students benefit from being introduced to exciting new material, interacting with other students from across the state, and observing incredible performance.
This is a college event that is free and open to the public. A $4 parking permit is required and can be purchased from permit machines located in the parking lots. Performances will take place throughout the Ohlone College Fremont campus. For more information about Ohlone College's High School Theatre Festival, please contact Festival Coordinator, Tamara Cooper, by email at TheatreFestival@ohlone.edu.