Niles West Thespians Take On Theatrefest


The theatre department smiling as they prepare for Theatrefest.

By Danica Calalang, Staff Writer

Students from the Niles West theatre department attended Theatrefest at the University of Urbana-Champaign from Jan. 12 to Jan. 14.

Theatrefest is an event where students involved in the Illinois Thespian Troupe come together, meet new people and bond over common interests. Students have the opportunity to bring one of their school plays or musicals to perform. They can also watch other shows, audition, interview for numerous colleges and attend workshops that teach a variety of different aspects of theater. 165 schools attended Theatrefest, including local schools like Niles North, Maine East, Maine West and Loyola Academy.

All theatre students with the highest amount of overall hours were able to attend the field trip. Whether they’re an actor or crew member, students can obtain hours by participating in shows and helping with the behind-the-scenes process of upcoming productions. Actors must have at least five hours as crew members in order to become eligible to be a thespian.

Niles West’s thespians are very passionate about theatre. For senior Therese Malijan, the performing arts is something she wants to pursue after high school.

“I learned a lot about myself and how I can use my current skills involving acting and singing to grow as a theater performer. Being given the opportunity to work with previous broadway casting directors and choreographers was such an honor, and I have used this knowledge to my advantage in order to prepare for college,” Malijan said.

Malijan is also the president of Niles West’s all-female acapella group, High FidelityShe learned how to be confident with her talents and be authentic with her performances through body expression. She plans to use these skills while auditioning for solos and performing outside of school to feel more comfortable in different crowds.

Theatrefest was a great team bonding experience. Not only did students grow as thespians, but they also grew closer to one another.

“My favorite thing I gained was the experience and relationship I built there because I got to hang out with people in the department that I don’t usually hang out with. It was fun getting to know them,” junior Ava Checke said.

Theater administrators are very excited about what’s to come for the thespians. The event provided multiple opportunities for students who live and breathe theater.

“For that week, high school artists were able to focus solely on art: no homework or after-school jobs. And, if they wanted to live that kind of life, Theatrefest offered a chance to talk to art and theatre college recruiters, so they could help them down that path,” Niles West sound designer Rick Sims said.

The theatre department’s next upcoming production is Akiko and the Unknown, opening on February 23. Don’t forget to buy your tickets!