BWW Blog: Alyssa Sileo - NJ Thesfest 2017: Central Jersey Exists
Saturday competitions and the short film festival, I grabbed my friend Mady by the hand, rushed downstairs from our Troupe 5480 corner on the second floor, and asked as many New Jersey Thespians as I could the most polarizing question you could whip out on any East Coaster.
Here's the data I've collected, along with some of their sentiments.
"Does Central Jersey exist?"
A poll conducted at 4pm on 1/14.
Yes: 23 votes.
"Yes, there is such a thing, because I live there."
"Even though Northern is New York, and Southern is Philly, we still exist. I say so because we have nice accents."
No: 16 votes.
"What's that? I've never heard of it. I don't think so."
"Nope. You have the beaches and Six Flags. That's it. That's what Jersey is."
I guess: 1 vote.
"Culturally, no. But in reality, yes."
It depends: 5 votes.
"Well does New Jersey even exist?"
"It's all cornfields, but they're real cornfields."
And I have to say--South Jersey may have the theatre hub of Philadelphia, and North Jersey may have New York, but the arts are alive and well at a Central Jersey Thespian Festival.
I've also collected some auxiliary data. NJ Thespians can indeed sing four Hamilton songs after a full day of competitions, and we also have the biggest hearts. The Festival housed many Broadway Cares Equity Fights Aids fundraisers, and that weekend alone the Thespians collected over $1,000 for BCEFA, and in our minute-to-win-it game, we raised $500 that will go toward sending a troupe to International Thespian Festival.
That's what heartens me the most, makes me cheer the loudest, and sometimes gets me emotional--it's how even us young people care so deeply about arts outreach. It's how a 5480 member and my pAl Kelly Bagby organized a presentation that displayed my troupe's advocacy work that awarded us the Community Engagement accolade. It's how my teacher Ms. Lynch-Walsh took her Gold Level troupe and raised a remarkable sum for BCEFA. It's how The Laramie Project Project team watched the first LPP performance at the chapter select competition, and afterward had the honor of interviewing Hoboken High School Troupe 7268. We asked them questions about theatre advocacy and an artist's role in changing the world.
It's hard to say that Central Jersey doesn't exist, after having a monumental weekend in one of its high schools, and after the troupes shared such special moments with each other. I sometimes wish every theatre experience was like this--a harrowing, weekend long celebration that tests our boundaries, throats, and ability to navigate a new school and several medals.
We come out of it realizing some things about ourselves that we thought were unreal.
Thespian is the best thing to happen to me in high school. It's a dream to say that I'm Nebraska bound this June for International Thespian Festival. This has been my goal for most of my high school career. I'm ready for the best week of my life with my best friends as we live theatre at University of Nebraska - Lincoln.
(Plug: The Laramie Project Project doesn't ring a bell? Check out my blog "Attention Theatre Teachers and Students" for more info about the nationwide movement with a New Jersey heart.)
At GCIT we have drama families with "bigs" and "littles" depending on our grade. I'm a big and a grand-big to two wonderful underclassmen, and here's my Big, Drama Senior Cassidy, who's joining me in Nebraska! She did an excellent job on her Publicity presentation for one of my favorite things to grace the GCIT stage, 2016's Antigone.
Junior ladies of 5480 performed in The Cagebirds by David Campton. We won best Chapter Select, and will perform this again at Nationals in June! We did this one-act for our sophomore show in March 2016. We just can't get away from it.
7268 in The Laramie Project. We love our sister school!
Dylan, Liv, and I, a happy family who won a superior medal for "The I Love You Song" from The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee
Mama Who Bore Me, 5480 Senior Ladies, got to perform in the Showcase. (One of my favorite 5480 pieces to ever be performed.)
My loves, the victorious GCIT Thespian Class of 2017
The Thespian Class of 2018, some of us comp first-timers! We all brought home some hardware.