Thespians to converge on Starkville
NEWS DAILY JOURNAL- January 6, 2006


See for yourself
What: Mississippi Theatre Association Festival
When: Jan. 13-15
Where: Mississippi State University's McComas Hall
Tickets: $15/per day, $25/weekend pass
Info: (662) 418-3870, scunetto@bellsouth.net
Extra: A schedule will soon be available at www.mta-online.org.



Daily Journal


STARKVILLE - Thespians from throughout the state will soon gather in Starkville to show their stuff.


The 2006 Mississippi Theatre Association Festival will feature performances by high school and community theater groups, with winners earning the right to compete at the Southeastern Theatre Conference in March in Orlando, Fla.


"In Mississippi, we have some awesome high school theaters and community theaters," said M.J. Etua, MTA president and a member of Starkville Community Theatre. "You're going to see a variety of different shows."


The event, which is co-hosted by Mississippi State University and Starkville Community Theatre, will include workshops on acting, directing, lighting, movement and more.


Sam Haskell, an Amory native and Hollywood agent, will be on hand to discuss the business side of acting. He's been a powerful behind-the-scenes player involved in "The Cosby Show," "Everybody Loves Raymond," "Mad About You" and many more.


"Most of the people who are doing community theater have careers," said Tom Booth, MTA vice president. "Some of the high school students have ideas about having a career in acting. I think Sam will let them know there are more ways to be a part of the business than by being in front of the camera."


Myrna Colley-Lee, a member of Mississippi Arts Commission, will talk about creative aspects of theater that don't involve acting. She's worked as an art director, set designer and costume designer for film, television and theater. She's also the wife of Morgan Freeman.


"We'll do a Q&A with her," Etua said, "and I'm really interested in hearing what she has to say."




The event will get a jump-start on Thursday, Jan. 12, when high school students audition for the state's colleges and universities.


The festival will begin in earnest the following day, when high school theater companies will have 45 minutes to put up their sets, perform and strike the sets. The results will be judged by three theater professionals, and three finalists will earn the chance to perform in Orlando.


There will be teams from Oxford, Starkville, Biloxi, Brandon, Hancock, Hattiesburg, Oak Grove, and Picayune high schools, as well as Pillow Academy of Greenwood.


Those performances will be at McComas Hall, while Theatre for Youth is taking place at MSU's Wise Center. Theatre for Youth features performances specially geared toward Starkville and Oktibbeha County students.


Community theater groups will begin competing on Friday at McComas Hall after the high schools have finished, and performances will continue into the weekend.


They'll have 10 minutes to set up, one hour to perform and 10 minutes to strike. A winner will be chosen to attend the regional festival in Orlando.


The competition will include Center Players of Madison, Delta Center Stage of Greenville, Just Over the Rainbow Theatre of Hattiesburg, Starkville Community Theatre and Tallahatchie River Players of New Albany.


In addition to performances, the festival is a chance to network and get new ideas to take home.


"It's kind of like a family reunion. You come, ask questions and catch up on how things are going," Etua said. "You learn about each others' seasons and find out what worked and what didn't. There are a lot of good ideas that go back and forth."


Contact M. Scott Morris at 678-1589 or scott.morris@djournal.com