The Creston Community High School Speech team set a school record with three large group all-state nominations after the Iowa High School Speech Association State Competition Saturday in Waukee.
Of these qualifying groups, reader’s theatre and choral reading will be performing at the IHSSA All-State festival next Saturday at the Iowa State Center in Ames. The school’s one-act play group was nominated to the festival in a non-performing role.
CCHS speech coach Laura Granger said this is the first time she or the school has had more than one performing group at the festival.
“We’ve had one performing or one performing and one non-performing, but we’ve never had three groups nominated at once,” said Granger.
Creston had 15 groups performing at the state competition, with nine groups receiving a Division I rating and six receiving a Divison II.
The one-act play category involves a group performing either one act from a longer play or a whole play consisting of only one act. There are no limits as far as cast size and scene changes.
Creston students performed “Competition Piece” by John S. Wells, a meta-commentary comedy about actors putting on a show in similar vain to the speech event itself. Sophomore Conner Hammons was one of the actors involved with the piece.
“It was a piece about preparing a play,” said Hammons. “The play would go through the rehearsals and the auditions and the practices. There’s three judges in the play also that are critiquing it in short snippets.”
The one-act play was nominated for the all-state festival, but will not be performing. One-act play is a larger category thus having a tighter limit on how many can perform at the festival. This means the students still get to attend but are unable to compete for the coveted all-state banner.
Out of all the participating groups in the state, Creston’s one-act play placed within the top 22 groups, said Granger.
In the choral reading category, group members recite a work from a script in unison and with solo parts. Heavy emphasis is put on movements, voice changes and sounds made by the group.
Creston performed “Funhouse of Fear,” an original piece by Laura Granger. The story touches on general themes of fear while laced with social commentary.
“It’s based off all of these fears that happen with people,” said CCHS Senior Abbi Hood. “It’s full of surprises and twists.”
“It’s kind of a metaphor for political issues,” added CCHS Senior Jordan Peckham.
Out of all the participating groups in the state, Creston’s choral reading placed within the top 20 groups, said Granger.
Reader’s theatre has a group read from a script where there are no props other than chairs.
The piece Creston performed was “The Distracted Scholar’s Guide to Literature and Drama” by Peter Bloedel.
“It’s a very funny script that talks about literature through the ages in a way that captures your attention,” said CCHS Senior Anne Guthrie. “The first time we performed it at districts we didn’t actually make it all the way through since we didn’t take in account the amount of time the audience would laugh. So we had to cut out scenes when we took it to state to make it fit.”
Out of all the participating groups in the state, Creston’s reader’s theatre placed within the top 12 groups, said Granger.
As the three teams prepare for their trip to Ames, the speech department has just begun preparing for an individual competitions that are around the corner. Granger said she is always impressed with the quality of the students’ performances.
“They’ve grown quite a bit,” said Granger. “A lot of the kids were returning kids, but we did have a handful of newbies. I know there are a few people in the groups going to all-state that this is their first year doing speech. They all just kept getting stronger and better.”
Granger credits assistant coaches David Qualseth and Becca Coleman as well as volunteer coaches Riley Beard, Trey Gift and Kasey Booth. Granger also said the community has given the team positive feedback and support.
“We’ve had parents contact us and tell us how proud they are and how much their kid has grown and come out of their shell,” said Granger. “That’s always neat to hear.”
“My first competition I was scared to death,” said Hammons. “Then I realized I was just there to do a competition, just like everyone else there.”
The teams that will be performing will be in the Stephens Auditorium and Scheman Building on the Iowa State Campus Saturday, Feb. 22. Reader’s theatre will be performing at 9:30 a.m. with choral reading performing at 11:53 a.m.