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Bob Jones actors, costuming honored at SETC

MADISON – Actors and crew members from Bob Jones High School earned honors at Southeastern Theatre Conference or SETC, the nation’s largest theatre forum with 5,000-plus people in attendance.

SETC 2019 convened in Knoxville, Tenn. on Feb. 28 through March 1 at the convention center, civic auditorium and several downtown hotels for workshops.

For their one-act play, “The Bell Witch,” Bob Jones won the “Best Costumes” award, and five students claimed places in the “All-Star Cast.”

To win the costuming award, students and parents worked together to dress cast members in a wardrobe that fit the characters, along with the tone and time period of the play.

Students in the “All-Star Cast” and their roles are Addison McAbee (Twyla), Justin Peel (Charles Bailey Bell), Clare Norris (Kate Batts), Michael Willis (Drew) and Corey Tolbert (Jesse). Judges selected these students to recognize their achievements in acting.

“All of the above students worked extremely hard at their characters. The actors playing Drew and Jesse actually had to learn to perform a stage illusion that is remarkably difficult to pull off … they vanished another character on stage,” co-director B. Dwayne Craft said.

“Each student brought their own unique take on the characters they were playing,” Craft said. “That breathed life into them on stage.”

“The Bell Witch” was Bob Jones’ first attempt to create a true ‘Southern gothic’ play. Apprehensive at first, Craft had never attempted that genre. “The kids convinced me to ‘roll the dice.’ They were incredible at workshopping the piece,” Craft said.

Co-director Mary Davis completed dramaturgy (critiquing dramatic composition) for the play.  

“Judging by the standing ovation and students from other schools and states who lined up around the backstage exit to ask our performers for autographs, I would say that we represented Alabama well,” Craft said.

SETC schedules literally hundreds of workshops. Bob Jones students attended workshops on acting techniques, theatre history and all aspects of theatre technology and design.

“I attended a workshop presented by a professor from Wake Forrest on what it means to be a Christian in theatre,” Craft said. “I also attended a Meisner workshop (and) workshops on technology for lighting and using Vectorworks for drafting scenery.”

College and professional representatives, along with contacts from youth, community and high school theatre, interviewed students. High schools presented 20 shows.

Founded in 1949, SETC is a not-for-profit membership association and has become the premier organization serving a wide constituency of people, businesses and academic institutions, all connected by theatre.

Currently, Bob Jones holds the Alabama record for the most SETC appearances and the only school since 1975 to win back-to-back festivals.

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