Theatre groups take stage today
STARKVILLE DAILY NEWS - January 13, 2006


For the Daily News


Beginning today, theatre lovers can watch some of the top high school and community theatres in the state compete at the annual Mississippi Theatre Association Festival.


Throughout the weekend, high schools and community theatres will perform at Mississippi State University while participating in workshops and listening to critiques of productions.


Participants in the high school division are Biloxi High School, Brandon High School, Hancock High School, Hattiesburg High School, Oak Grove High School, Oxford High School, Picayune Memorial High School, Pillow Academy of Greenwood and Starkville High School.


Community theatre participants include Center Players of Madison, Delta Center Stage of Greenville, Just Over the Rainbow Theatre of Hattiesburg, Starkville Community Theatre and Tallahatchie River Players.


Theatre professionals will critique the performances and choose one community theatre and one high school group to perform at the Southeastern Theatre Conference in Orlando, Fla.

Despite the competition aspect of the festival, Stephen Cunetto, executive director of the Mississippi Theatre Association, said the festival serves as an educational tool for theatre groups.


“While only one theatre in each division will advance, the main emphasis is placed on the educational experience provided by watching these productions and learning through the critiques and workshops,” he said.

Two keynote speakers will also add to the groups' theatre knowledge.


Professional costume designer Myrna Colley-Lee will speak at the festival, as well as Sam Haskell III, former Worldwide Head of Television for the William Morris Agency in Los Angeles, Calif. A variety of other speakers will also hold workshops for participants at the festival.


Theatres will also perform children's plays at the Theatre for Youth Festival held in the Wise Center Auditorium at Mississippi State University. Groups performing at the Theatre for Youth Festival include Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College - Perkinston Campus, Gulfport Little Theatre, Purvis High School and Starkville Community Theatre.


While the high school and community theatre festival has an admission fee, the Theatre for Youth Festival is free of charge.


All high school and community theatre performances are open to the public and held at McComas Hall at Mississippi State University. A day pass costs $15, and a weekend pass to all shows costs $25. For a full schedule of events, visit the MTA Web site at www.mta-online.org.


The Mississippi Theatre Association seeks to foster appreciation of and participation in children's, college, community, high school, professional, and university theatre in Mississippi by sponsoring festivals, workshops, and retreats; communicating with members and the public; acting as an advocate to government agencies, business, and the public; recognizing excellence in performance and production; and sanctioning representatives to regional festivals.


MTA is sponsored in part by a grant from the Mississippi Arts Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts.