Waxahachie High School theatre students will take the stage for the state championships of the University Interscholastic League One-Act Play on Tuesday.
In the previous rounds, “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time,” has received first place from all 12 judges. The judges also all agreed on the junior, Sam Linguist, as “Best Actor.”
Linguist conducted his own research to portray a 15-year-old autistic boy. Longtime Waxahachie theatre director, Andy Reynolds, shared how the judges wrote the same notes for Linguist, thanking him for his authenticity instead of playing the stereotypical character.
“In fact, before the judge started his notes, he started crying,” Reynolds elaborated. “He [judge] had a 19-year-old nephew who is autistic. And he goes, ‘I’ve seen these situations where the father snaps and hits him and immediately apologizes profusely because he knows it’s his son.’”
Reynolds shared how he and the cast were moved to know the story they told affected people in that manner. It reassured the students to know that what they are doing matters and influences the audience.
“We kept saying that no matter what we’ve gotten on this journey, we are so proud of you guys of the story you are telling. If the judge doesn’t like it then y’all can walk away and know we did an incredible job,” Reynolds said.
After analyzing the judges' most recent critiques, the students are focused on tightening up the show and being honest with the characters, so each character has an arch that the audience can empathize or sympathize with.
Going into the state championship, Reynolds said they are not trying to reinvent the wheel.
“We are not trying to up the ante just because we are going to state. We are here because these kids are doing it the right way,” he added.
Reynolds also pointed out how the community’s support drew in more than 400 people to the second public showing. The WHS theatre students raised $1,000 as a community for autism awareness and delivered a big check to the autism treatment center in Dallas on their way to region competition.
“It really put things into perspective for the kids. There’s so much out there that’s bigger than us and for us just to help out a little bit was well worth it. I was really proud of the kids for doing that,” Reynolds expressed.
Waxahachie is one out of eight schools in the 5A division to compete on Tuesday, April 24. The competition will take place at the Round Rock ISD Performing Arts Center and is open to the public.
The contest starts at 4 p.m., and Waxahachie High School will perform third in the lineup. The shows run tight so they will most likely start around 5:30 p.m.
Concluding all performances, the judges will announce the individual acting awards and first, second, and third place in the state.
Before the theatre students take off for Round Rock on Monday, April 23, there will be a send-off at 9:45 a.m. Members of the community are asked to line both sides of Highway 77 to encourage the students on their way to the state championship.
Ashley Ford | @aford_news | 469-517-1450