The return of Theatrefest: Are you living or just existing?


Jennifer Heim Photography

Amy Wang (center) as a Dulocian alongside her castmates in the 2023 All-State production of Shrek The Musical.

Leah Dennison and Ava Nelson, Staff Writer

As things are returning back to normal after the pandemic, this includes the return of unique, in-person events supporting student growth such as Theatrefest. The first since 2020, Theatrefest is a three-day event that celebrates all aspects of theatre. Participants are able to take a variety of classes for acting, tech, dancing, and much more in order to learn and improve their craft. There are annual events including an All-State production put on by high schoolers all around the state, and many other productions each student is able to attend. Every other year the location changes between the two colleges. This year the festival was held at UIUC and themed “Are You Living or Just Existing?” Next year the festival will switch back to ISU.


One of the main activities to do at Theatrefest is to take the master classes provided by qualified instructors. There are a ton of different classes and workshops offered, including the Ballroom Dancing class which teaches students the simple steps of the waltz, cha-cha and swing. Another class includes Puppet Manipulation, where students learned to portray life in an inanimate object through breath and movement. Other classes provided include audition workshops, improv, writing and directing, and more. Students are not limited to their options to learn and grow as an on or off-stage member at Theatrefest.


Along with the many classes held at Theatrefest, a variety of shows are also displayed at the festival, whether that be high school plays or the annual All-State production. Each year, auditions are held for profound actors and technicians looking for a chance to be a part of the All-State production, this year being Shrek The Musical. The rehearsal process for all cast in the show included very long weekend rehearsals around once a month for 6 months total beginning in August, where skilled high schoolers worked 12 hours a day to create a unique and talent-filled show for all attendees of Theatrefest to watch. Despite only having 18 total rehearsals, this performance was astounding.


 Neuqua Valley was represented in the performance by senior Amy Wang, who played a Dulocian and Tap Dancing Rat. The experience of All-State was enlightening, as Wang said, “I learned a lot about different aspects of theatre as well as how to conduct myself in a professional setting,” and although the process was filled with work, it was also filled with fun opportunities with a unique group of people. “My favorite part of this process was getting to meet everyone from all around the state of Illinois, and getting to know about the different high school theatre programs around the state from my friends was really eye-opening.”


Other shows performed at Theatrefest include Carrie The Musical (Hinsdale South), Spamalot (Wauconda), Matilda (Glenbard East), As You Like It (Lakes Community), Puffs of Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic and Magic (Antioch Community), Bad Seed (Warren Township), and so much more.


After spending a weekend with friends who share the same interest, we can say that Theatrefest is truly one of the best experiences we’ve had. We have learned so much from the classes, were able to see brilliant performances, and were able to have a fun weekend away while still gaining skills for our futures in theatre. If you are considering attending Theatrefest next year, we highly recommend it, as it is a memorable experience for all.