Annual MTA festival draws 500 to city, MSU
STARKVILLE DAILY NEWS - January 14, 2006


By BECKY WILKES/Starkville Daily News


More than 500 high school students, teachers, and community theater actors, directors, and supporters swarmed the McComas Creative Arts Center Friday morning as the state high school drama festival kicked off.


Stephen Cunetto, Executive Director of the Mississippi Theatre Association, was on hand to greet them.


“We have 18 schools here. There are five community theatre groups participating and three more observing. It's the largest turnout that we've had,” Cunetto said as he watched the excited teenagers and adults in the lobby.


The increase in attendance may be due to the expanded program. This year's agenda includes a series of workshops on topics like making props on a budget, using white lights for effects on stage, auditioning, and beginning and developing your portfolio. There are ten minute play performances and socials for the students. And add to that a talk by former television talent agent Sam Haskell and renowned costume designer Myrna Colley-Lee, and you've got a dynamite program.


“It's the 50th anniversary of the Mississippi Theatre Association,” MJ Etua told the group at the opening session. Etua is president of the Mississippi Theatre Association and president-elect of the Starkville Community Theatre, which is cosponsoring the event with MSU.


Starkville High School kicked off the festival with their dramatic performance of “Wiley and the Hairy Man.” Biloxi High School and Oak Grove High performed in the morning block, also. Pillow Academy and Hancock High performed in the afternoon, followed by Starkville Community Theatre's performance of Comfort's broken Light and Hattiesburg High School's performance of “The Katrina Project: Hell and High Water.”


Schools scheduled to perform Saturday are Picayune High and Brandon High, Tallahatchie River Player, Picayune High School, and Brandon High school, as well as Oxford High and Delta Center Stage. Just Over the Rainbow Theatre and Center Players of Madison finish the day. A luncheon and awards ceremony will be held on Sunday.


What's playing today at MTA Festival:

8:45 a.m. Performance Block

  • Tallahatchie River Players - *It's a Wonderful Life*
  • Picayune Memorial High School - *Home*
  • Brandon High School - *A Thousand Cranes*

2.30 p.m. Performance Block

  • Oxford High School - *Forever Plaid*
  • Delta Center Stage - *A Woman Called Truth*

7.15 p.m. Performance Block

  • Just Over the Rainbow Theatre - *Sylvia*
  • Center Players - *Laundry and Bourbon*


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.