One would think that the theater department would get a break between the hectic schedules of the play and the musical, but for those who wish to take their love of theater to the next level, the Governor’s Awards provides the perfect outlet. The Governor’s Awards is a competition between theater students across the state in a myriad of categories. Ranging from Comedy Monologues to Pantomime Pairs, actors have a wide variety of options in which to show their skills. “It can seem rather hectic running around campus getting to each room to perform or watch others perform, but it’s really a fun time,” said James Maltby, a junior participating in five different categories this year.
Unlike the frantic rehearsal schedules for the play and the musical, with rehearsals occurring most days and for several hours at a time, the process for the Governor’s Awards is much more relaxed. The process begins with students selecting their categories and working with Mrs. Russo to decide their scene. From then on, the time frame until the Awards in January is fairly relaxed. “For monologues or scenes that are scripted, you schedule times to meet with Mrs. Russo and rehearse in front of her,” senior Emily Alfano told me. “These start in December. Other than that, it’s on you to memorize and prepare with your partner if you have one.” This process can vary depending on the category though, with the various improv categories having workshops run by Mrs. Russo instead of conventional rehearsals.
Only once you arrive at the Governor’s Awards does the pace pick up. For students participating in multiple categories, the day can be extremely fast-paced as you move around the campus of the Awards to find where you are going to perform next. Unlike most theater performances, in front of loud and cheering audiences, the Governor’s Awards provides a much more intimate experience. “You’re just kind of performing in a classroom for the judge in that room and maybe a few other stragglers,” said senior Jillian Roche.
For the students involved, just being able to further immerse themselves in the world of theater gives them more reason than any other to participate. “Acting has always been a passion of mine, which is why I wanted to participate in this contest,” commented junior Lily Bauer. With the plethora of categories to choose from, most students are able to find something they’re interested in pursuing.
For Mrs. Russo, the Governor’s Awards provides an opportunity to explore different avenues in the theater community. “The Governor’s Awards is a wonderful opportunity to gain more acting experience without the huge time commitment of a production. It also allows students to choose their own material based on their strengths and challenge themselves with something new.” With the play and musical formats taking up most of the theater space, the idea of something much more freeform and loose can sound very interesting to many theater students. The ability to flex their creative freedom on a short and unique project is an appealing prospect to many, and an exciting opportunity for Chatham High School students.