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JBHS Drama Wins Multiple CETA Awards

The Drama department at John Burroughs High School took home several awards from the annual California Educational Theatre Association (CETA) Southern High School Festival. JBHS Drama won the top prize of Best Ensemble for The Laramie Project, in addition to numerous honors recognizing individual students and production teams.

“Congratulations to our drama students, tech students and parent volunteers for a whirlwind weekend that we will never forget!” commented Drama teacher Guy Myers. “After winning Best Play in Los Angeles for our production of The Laramie Project back in November, we were invited to compete with the three other California regions on the main stage at the festival by remounting our entire show.”

jbhs drama

The John Burroughs High School cast of “The Laramie Project” won big at the annual California Educational Theatre Association awards. (Photo Courtesy Guy of Myers)

“That means we went back into rehearsals, got all of our sets and costumes back, packed it all into a truck and took our show on the road. With over 60 students and 15 parent volunteers, this was truly an experience we will never forget.”

The CETA Southern High School Theatre Festival was held January 12 – 14 at Los Oso High School in Rancho Cucamonga.

Seniors Megan Mazer and KJ Powell won Best Lead Performances. They both competed in and won the senior monologue scholarship competition, as well.

Mazer received a special Adjudicator Award – each judge on the panel picks an individual actor to receive this award recognizing exceptional talent.

JBHS entered the CETA film competition for the first time. Students Claire Flynn and Daria Clark were awarded first place for their short film “Hidden Battle,” an educational piece shining a light on the struggles teenagers can have with anxiety.

The Laramie Project

JBHS Drama presents “The Laramie Project.” (Photo Courtesy of Guy Myers)

Additionally, JBHS earned 16 certificates of outstanding merit including: Outstanding Tech Crew, Outstanding Production Crew, Outstanding Ensemble, Outstanding Costume Design, Outstanding Direction, Oustanding Stage Manager – Anahi Linares and Outstanding Student Producer – Sierra Spencer.

Outstanding Acting Certificates went to: Hudson Bartram, Topli Petko, Ariana Kretz, Louis Zekowski, Megan Mazer, Eli Staub, KJ Powell, Jason Testa and Paris Stacy.

“Each director gets to give one exceptional student a Director’s Award, and I selected Sierra Spencer, our amazing student producer, for her dedication, enthusiasm and professionalism,” added Myers.

Myers also noted his appreciation for the entire Tech Crew along with teacher and advisor Jon King for helping propel the production of The Laramie Project to award-winning heights.

“It was an honor to share this story with audiences and bring home the statewide championship from over 70 participating schools!” he said.

JBHS Drama Presents “The Laramie Project”

The John Burroughs High School Drama department presents The Laramie Project on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, November 17, 18 and 19.

Written by members of the Tectonic Theater Project, The Laramie Project looks at community members’ responses to tragic story of Matthew Shepard, who was kidnapped, badly beaten and left tied to a fence in the middle of the prairie outside Laramie, Wyoming, in October 1998.

The twenty-one-year-old student from the University of Wyoming was not discovered until the next day, and he died several days later in a nearby hospital. Shepard was attacked because he was gay.

The Laramie Project

(Photo Courtesy of Guy Myers)

After the beating and death of Shepard and during the trial of the two young men accused of the assault and murder, members of the Tectonic Theater Project made six trips to Laramie over a year and a half and interviewed more than 200 people in the community.

“Aaron Kreifels is the one who finds Matt by the fence,” explained junior Xander Taylor, who portrays Kreifels. “I knew it would be a tough role to play, considering what he goes through.”

“Witnessing someone near death, trying your best to save them.. It’s heartbreaking.”

“The beautiful thing about The Laramie Project is that it represents all of the different opinions and outlooks on the situation,” added Taylor. “It’s a slice of real life.”

The Laramie Project

(Photo Courtesy of Guy Myers)

“Due to the level of talent and the incredible student interest, this is the largest cast for a play we have ever had so far,” commented director and Drama teacher Guy Myers. “Over 50 students are giving their hearts to create a profound night of theater that you will not forget.”

“This true story of the beating and murder of a young gay man and the impact it had on the city of Laramie, Wyoming, feels so timely even now, 19 years later,” he said. “I am so proud of the dedication and support this cast is showing at rehearsals and we are so honored to bring this production to the stage.”

“I play Catherine Connolly, a University of Wyoming professor in her forties who was the first ‘out’ lesbian faculty member,” commented sophomore Laura Brown. “I feel very privileged to be a part of this cast of talented people who I believe truly care about this story.”

“I know that although The Laramie Project was created almost 20 years ago, its presentation of differing viewpoints opens a dialogue that is relevant and critical for audiences today,” she added.

The Laramie Project

(Photo Courtesy of Guy Myers)

Senior Sierra Spencer is the student producer for The Laramie Project. Her job is to record all of the staging, blocking and any changes made during rehearsals by the director. She also sends out the schedule daily before rehearsal.

“I love being  able to be a part of the show in an aspect that isn’t necessarily acting,” Spencer said. “I love theater and the creative process behind theater but I’ve realized my interest isn’t in acting.”

“Watching this play go from the read through to the stage it is now… has been such an amazing experience. I’m always so impressed by how people my age are able to handle a piece like this with such integrity and translate the message so well.”

The Laramie Project

JBHS Drama presents “The Laramie Project.” (Photo Courtesy of Guy Myers)

“I feel very honored to be in such a beautiful and relevant show that has such a powerful meaning behind it,” said junior Veronica Haug. “The cast is so great and all the group scenes are so powerful. My character, Marge Murray, is like the fun grandma and she is such a fun person to portray.”

“Mr. Myers is an amazing director and always is able to take meaningful plays like The Laramie Project or last year’s play To Kill A Mockingbird and handle it with such integrity and make the end result something beyond high school theater,” added Spencer.

Tickets are $15 general admission and $10 for students and seniors. They are available in advance here or at the box office before the show. More information on JBHS Drama and their upcoming shows can be found on their website.

The Laramie Project will run for three performances at the JBHS auditorium on Friday and Saturday, November 17 and 18, at 7:00 p.m. and Sunday, November 19, at 2:00 p.m. John Burroughs High School is located at 1920 W. Clark Avenue in Burbank.