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East County Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2019 1 month ago

Students take their act to the Fringe

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Lakewood Ranch High School drama students perform at world famous festival in Scotland.
by: Liz Ramos Staff Writer

Lakewood Ranch High School junior Matthew Sidlo stepped out of his comfort zone during the theater department’s summer trip to Scotland. 

Rather than handling his behind-the-scenes actions as a technician, the 16-year-old Sidlo was on stage acting with 14 other students in front of hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of people. 

The 15 students and Theater Director Roxane Caravan was one of 32 schools from across the country to travel overseas to participate in the annual Edinburgh Festival Fringe, which was a first for the high school’s theater department. The department had to raise about $125,000 to pay for travel as well as items for the show.

The festival is the world’s largest arts festival with more than 3,500 shows that spans more than 59,000 performances across more than 300 venues. 

Senior Elizabeth Kinnard said she felt “incredibly lucky” to go on a trip where “all anybody does is theater.” 

Lakewood Ranch High School senior McKenna Agnew prepares to play her role of 'Viola' during a performance of "Adventures of a Comic Book Artist" at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in Scotland. Submitted photo.

“It truly felt like a little bubble of just theater, and it was absolutely incredible,” Kinnard said. “I truly feel like that is the only place on earth you’d be able to experience that.”

During the trip, which was from July 27 to Aug. 9, the group performed “Adventures of a Comic Book Artist” four times in a venue as well as a performance on the Royal Mile, a main street for the festival where groups were able to essentially advertise their shows.

“It was a life-changing trip,” said JT Girman, who is a junior. “I know, for myself, the sights we saw, the culture we got to experience, the beautiful art pieces there as well as the visual arts were just so astounding. From a student perspective, it really made me appreciate what our teacher did as well as what the world does with theater.”

Caravan said she chose “Adventures of a Comic Book Artist” because it’s a family-friendly show that also plays into the popularity of superheroes.

Girman, 17, said performing at the festival was “an incredible opportunity for us and an awesome experience to perform in another country in a venue that’s not our school.”

Besides performances, students also participated in professional workshops, went sightseeing and saw professional performances like “Jesus Christ Superstar.” 

“Across the board, it wasn’t just theater education. It was truly a well-rounded education experience for them as well,” Caravan said. 

Throughout the trip, senior and theater department president Gabby Macogay said she grew not only as an actress but she also learned to be more independent.

“Especially as a senior I’m going to have to go off to college soon, and it was a good experience of how I can deal with myself on my own,” Macogay, 17, said. “There were definitely times I got overwhelmed and it was a little nerve wracking during the trip just because I was out of the country without my parents for a long time, but it definitely helped me grow as a person.”

With the department back into its regular schedule of a cabaret performance in November, a main stage musical in February, a playwriting marathon in May and an acting up summer camp in June, senior McKenna Agnew said she’s looking forward to “expanding her horizons” using the skills she learned at the festival to take on new roles.

Caravan said the department will be putting on “Mama Mia” for its main stage musical. 

Although Sidlo enjoyed his time on stage in Edinburgh, he said “it’s nice to be back in my bubble being tech” as a technician manager.

“I’m really excited to work with lights and sound,” Sidlo said. “I’m really excited to cultivate a new group of hopefully a lot of techs.”

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