Drama students win state show, move on to New England festival

BRANDON — Many who have seen the latest offering from Otter Valley’s theater students would say their success at the Vermont State Drama Festival was, well, inevitable.
The one-act of the same name — “Inevitable” — created by the students themselves under the direction of OV Theater Director Jeff Hull and Assistant Director Anita Hughes, won State Champion Show at the festival in St. Johnsbury on April 9 and has been chosen for the New England Drama Festival in Old Saybrook, Conn., on April 23.
This is only the second time that Otter Valley’s Walking Stick Theater group has won the state theater title. The first time was back in 2013 with the successful one-act “David & Lisa.” That show was responsible for Walking Stick being chosen to perform at the Fringe Festival in Scotland.
“Inevitable” is unique in many ways. It is a movement-based performance with very little spoken word. It visually tells the story of a young man struggling with his sexuality and the pressure from peers to conform, and their rejection of him. He contemplates hurting himself, until the friends that care about him help him find his way.
But the show speaks not only to adolescent struggles with sexuality, but the general fears and uncertainties about self-identity that come with high school years as teenagers try to discover who they are.
It is powerful, moving and in many ways groundbreaking, as it was created by the students, for students.
The judges at the state drama festival agreed. Steve Stettler is the artistic director of the Weston Playhouse.
“Wow,” he wrote. “I salute you and your students for creating a deeply meaningful new work of art, for daring to examine this theme and to do it largely in movement.  A truly major achievement.  Organic, strong, meaningful, truly extraordinary.”
Judge Miriam Cyr is artistic director of The Black Box Lab at Stage 284 in Boston.
This was beyond moving,” she wrote. “It was perfect in every way. Its beauty was arresting. This is the most amazing student/adult event piece I have seen.”
There were other state awards for Walking Stick as well. Principal actors Jacob Miner, Ben Francoeur and Sierra Norford received Excellence in Acting. Owen Kulp received Excellence in Lighting and Stage Management.
Hull himself said his students’ performance in St. Johnsbury was “phenomenal”.
Now, the group must raise $3,000 to send the 20 student actors to the New England Drama Festival in Connecticut on April 23, and a Go Fund Me website has been established to that end. The money will be combined with other fundraising efforts for the trip.
To make a donation, visit https://www.gofundme.com/r6ygdbpa.

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