Otter Valley thespians invited to perform at Fringe in Scotland

BRANDON — Otter Valley Union High School’s award-winning Walking Stick Theatre group has been chosen to perform in the world-renowned Fringe Festival in Scotland next summer.
The honor is free, but getting 20 student-actors to Edinburgh in August will cost $126,000, and the group officially launched its fundraising campaign last month. According to OV Theater Director Jeff Hull, the goal is to raise about half of the total cost.
“Although if we raise more it’ss, even better,” he said. “We’re trying to make it comparable to other overseas school trips, which cost between $2,000- $3,000 per student, but they usually only go for a week. We’re going for 15 days.”
Walking Stick Theatre was nominated to apply to the Fringe by a member of the American High School Theatre Festival Board last year after the group performed its award-winning production of “David and Lisa.” After completing a rigorous application process, Walking Stick was chosen among select high schools across the country to travel to Scotland in August 2015 and perform.
Hull said he still doesn’t know who nominated the group.
“I don’t know who they are or where they came from or what they saw, but it was definitely after ‘David and Lisa,’” he said. “Then I had to compile a portfolio of our last three years of productions, any awards we’ve won and production photos — basically, our body of work.”
While the students in grades 9-12 who have committed to participating are responsible for covering as much of the costs of the trip as they can, fundraising is a necessity in this case, and the group has until June 2015 to conduct fundraisers. Hull said a number of efforts including a recent bottle drive and other activities have raised roughly $10,000 so far. Sponsorship packets have also gone out to 200 local businesses and organizations.
But the group is really hoping that a weekly fundraiser called “Chase the Ace” will be their ace in the hole, so to speak.
Sponsored by the OV Booster Club, the event will take place each Friday from 7-9 p.m. at the Center Street Bar in downtown Brandon. It works like this:
1. To participate, players purchase a two-part 50/50 raffle ticket. They MUST be in attendance to win. The fundraiser will take place at the same time each week. Prices: $2 for one ticket, $5 for three tickets, $10 for 10 tickets.
2. At 9 p.m., the tickets will be mixed and one number is drawn, the winner of the matching ticket number wins 20 percent of all tickets sold and a chance to win the “Grand Prize” by turning up a playing card from a deck laid face down on the table.
3. At this time, the host will advise that the ace of Spades card will be the winning card (this card will remain the same until the grand prize is awarded).
4. Once the participant turns a card over, if it is not the ace of Spades, it is eliminated from the deck for the next weekly draw, leaving only the unturned cards. These remaining cards will be used for the next weekly draw. Repeating until the Grand Prize is awarded.
5. After the game is played, the host or emcee for the game, will turn over all the remaining cards on the table, to show the participant the winning card is in fact on the table.
6. Of the weekly ticket sales, 20 percent goes to the nightly winner and 30 percent goes into “The Pot” that will constitute the grand prize. The remaining 50 percent will go to support the OV students traveling to Scotland.
7. The grand prize will be awarded to the participant who successfully turns up the ace of Spades.
8. Once the grand prize is awarded, a new game will be started, with a complete deck of playing cards.
If there is no winner, the weekly pot and raffle information will appear in The Brandon Reporter as the game progresses.
Hull said the Fringe only accepts about 40 school theater groups from all of North America each year. Being nominated is like being nominated for an Oscar, it’s an honor, he said. But if all goes well, the fundraising will be a success and OV’s Walking Stick Theatre group will be able to showcase its talent on the international stage next summer.
To make a donation, send a check or money order to:
Otter Valley Union High School
Theater Department
2997 Franklin Street
Brandon, VT 05733

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