Whitehall-Coplay Press

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Parkland HS ‘Pebbles’ play chosen for national contest

Thursday, January 10, 2019 by Paul Willistein pwillistein@tnonline.com in Focus

Parkland High School’s production of “26 Pebbles,” a drama about the 2012 shooting of 20 students and six adult staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Newtown, Conn., has been chosen to compete in a national theater competition this summer at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Neb.

“26 Pebbles,” directed by Mark Stutz, director of Visual and Performing Arts, Parkland School District, was chosen to compete nationally after it was performed at the International Thespian Society (ITF) Pennsylvania State Conference the weekend of Dec. 1, 2018, at North Penn High School, Lansdale, Montgomery County.

“26 Pebbles,” written by Eric Ulloa in 2017, is based on interviews Ulloa did with residents of Newtown after the Dec. 14, 2012, shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

The play’s title, representing the 26 victims, is derived from the concept of pebbles thrown into a pond and creating ripples beyond the initial splash.

The Parkland “26 Pebbles” cast includes Olivia Behr, Mackenzie Lynch, Aubree Williams, Isabella Fedele, Alyssa Yocum, Jenny Delorimier, Aylor Scandola, Daniel Stewart, Noah Erlemann, Dylan Buckner, Carter Sachse, Taylor Shortell and Nate Cowling.

Parkland students got involved in the topic of school shootings after a Feb. 14, 2018, shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Parkland, Fla., where 17 students and staff members died.

Parkland High School students presented their production of “26 Pebbles” for the senior class at Parkland in addition to a regular run of four performances, Oct. 12, 13 and 14, 2018, before a combined audience of about 1,750.

The Parkland production competes against seven other productions, as of press time, according to the Playbill web site.

According to reporting by Playbill’s Logan Culwell-Block, “The opportunity is a major achievement for schools that participate in the festival, with just 11 total schools being invited to perform on the ITF main stage following a nationwide screening and adjudication process. This batch of eight productions follows fall 2018 adjudications. Three more will be invited this spring.

“The International Thespian Festival, produced by EdTA [Educational Theatre Association] and set this year for June 24-29, brings more than 4,000 high school drama students and their teachers together for a week of workshops, networking opportunities, and inspiration. ITF attendees have the chance to interact with colleges, Broadway professionals, and industry leaders as they work towards honing their craft,” Culwell-Block wrote Jan. 4 for Playbill.

“We will probably have some performances [of ‘26 Pebbles’] for the public before we go that will be donation-based entry to help offset costs,” Stutz said in an email to Lehigh Valley Press Focus.

Stutz said Parkland students involved in the “26 Pebbles” production will begin rehearsing the play again following Parkland’s spring musical in April.

In addition to Parkland’s “26 Pebbles,” the seven high school productions chosen so far for the 56th annual ITF are:

North Penn High School, Lansdale, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” directed by Andrea Roney and Debra Buckner

Jemicy School, Owings Mills, Md., “Peter And The Starcatcher,” directed by Sean Elias

J.J. Pierce High School, Richardson, Tex, “Shakespeare In Love,” directed by Heather Biddle

South Eugene High School, Eugene, Ore., “Be More Chill,” directed by Patrick Avery

Kansas All State, Olathe, Kan., “Bring It On,” directed by Ed Shafer

Garden City High School, Garden City, Kan., “Hamlet,” directed by Barbara Hilt

McPherson High School, McPherson, Kan., “Noises Off,” directed by Greg McGlynn