First Stage Young Company takes on the Utah Shakespeare Festival

Each year, members of the First Stage Young Company travel to compete in the Utah Shakespeare Festival’s High School Shakespeare Competition. They join together with more than 100 schools from across the country in a weekend of monologue, small scene, and large scene competitions – like a Forensics meet, but for Shakespeare! This year, 11 students (self-nicknamed “Team Yorick”) traveled with John Maclay and Jennifer Adams to the competition. Academy student Garrett Kim reflected on the experience.
Garrett Kim
Our adventure began Thursday morning as the group convened in the airport. Parting ways with our families, the prospect of the weekend’s excitement gave us the energy for the day’s travels. The flight from Milwaukee to Las Vegas (or “Lost Wages”) was followed by a scenic van ride through the mountains to Cedar City, Utah. The landscape gave us chills as did the cool weather. After a pizza party in Matt Steege and Yorick’s spacious room (nicknamed “the Hub”), we ran through our scenes and turned in early.
On Friday, we hit the streets of downtown Cedar City where we stumbled upon the delightful Grind Café, perused a bookstore and old-fashioned drug store, and crossed the streets with the convenient traffic flags. Then, we toured Southern Utah University, the site of the festival. We watched some impromptu rehearsals while getting ourselves acquainted with the layout of the campus. After lunch, we met up with [Young Company co-director] Todd [Denning] to show him our material, and then it was off to the competition! Moving from round to round, we saw the good, the wacky, and the just plain wicked (no seriously—a Wicked tribute featuring a green Kate and bubbly Bianca from Taming of the Shrew). Throughout the competition, we ran into the lovely, talented people of Theater Arts Conservatory from Salt Lake City. The chilly night ended with SUU’s production of King Lear outdoors in the replica Globe Theater. Needless to say, we were thankful for the hot chocolate being sold.
The next morning was our ensemble scene. We watched a few scenes before performing, including TAC’s stunning and sassy mash-up of the Henry VI’s and Richard III telling the heartbreaking story of Margaret. After some quick rehearsals, we performed the last scene from As You Like It, which everyone agreed went smashingly. With our competitive responsibilities over, we headed to the Hong Kong Buffet to meet our friends from TAC for a celebratory lunch. We all loved joking around and sharing stories with lovely people who love doing this as much as we do. Saturday afternoon, we saw Todd and a whole slew of Milwaukee-affiliated actors in Winter’s Tale (if you want to know how beautiful the show was, ask Mitch Bultman—he still isn’t over it).
Later that night at the awards show, Christine Pollnow scored a 3rd place victory for her Juliet monologue, and we earned 3rd place overall as a team (a very comfortable place to be, per John)! John, Jenn, and Todd said over and over how proud of us they were. We drank Splashberries and celebrated with TAC at the local IHOP before parting ways for the weekend, assuring each other we’d be Facebook friends soon. For the rest of the night, we Skyped with friends from Minnesota and hung out in the hotel.
Team Yorick
Todd met up with us again Sunday morning to take us on a hike up through the mountains. It was rejuvenating and relaxing and the perfect way to end a spectacular weekend. The journey back to Milwaukee included a drive down the Las Vegas strip, more Skyping, and lots of napping. We got back late Sunday night dreading the inevitable exhaustion of the next day at school. I’m so glad I got to do this with such an amazing, friendly, and talented bunch of people! This trip will stay with me forever. Whenever I’m having a rough day or losing my mind at school, all I’ll have to do is pull out my Yorick necklace, and I’ll be back in Cedar City with my friends, the mountains, and the Bard.

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