NSHS drama takes first at Utah Shakespeare competition for
second straight year
By Rhett Wilkinson
MT. PLEASANT—One good take was enough for the North Sanpete High School drama team.
In a division with 10 schools, many of them much larger than NSHS, the 16-member group took first place at the Utah Shakespeare Competition, as well as first place in the acting ensemble category, for the second straight year. Also, senior Ben Anderson took third place in monologues.
Alex Barlow, drama teacher at North Sanpete High School, said the biggest challenge this year to the team’s success was doing an ensemble scene in one take. That’s because the team had to film it and send it in due to COVID-19. (The whole competition was done digitally, he said.)
Since you can’t edit an ensemble scene, it took five or six takes before getting a take suitable for submission, Barlow said.
“You can’t stop and start,” he said. “It’s a live performance.”
And ensemble scenes are about 10 minutes long.
The team had to submit pieces by Sept. 26, with the award coming Oct. 9. It meant that the team had two weeks less than normal to rehearse and then film everything. Barlow’s team usually has more than a month to prepare, but had less than three weeks.
“It was definitely challenging,” he said. “It was amazing to see the bond that was created in that short amount of time. … that’s really important for an ensemble scene.”
The team also hadn’t been able to rehearse or perform since March due to the pandemic.
“It felt great to create theater again,” Barlow said.
He said judges for the contest come from all over the country and this year’s contest certainly was no different given the digital nature of the competition.
The overall award comes from “sweepstakes,” a combined score of three monologues and one ensemble scene.
“The students worked incredibly hard,” Barlow said. “Shakespeare is not easy to do well, but these students have really taken to it.”