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Regional theater festival finds home in Folsom

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KNOW AND GO
What: Lenaea High School Theatre Festival
When:  10 a.m., Friday, Feb. 1-3
Where:  Three Stages Performing Arts Center, 10 College Parkway, Folsom
Info:   lenaea.org

Regional high school students will be featured at Three Stages in Folsom in the upcoming Lenaea High School Theatre Festival.

The festival opens at 10 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 1, at Three Stages Performing Arts Center in Folsom, with a traditional opening ceremony where 50 Northern California high schools are welcomed with presentations and performances. The three-day festival includes various performances through Sunday, Feb. 3.

“Schools will be able to experience Lenaea in the beautiful state-of-the-art facilities of Three Stages as we partner with the Department of Theatre and Cinema Arts at Folsom Lake College, the Sacramento Area Regional Theatre Alliance and the Folsom Tourism Bureau to bring the festival to Folsom,” said Scott Adams, Lenaea High School Theatre Festival executive director.

Lenaea High School Theatre Festival started in 1956 and was founded by Theatre Arts Professor Carl Thomas. It was originally established as an outreach program under the support of an academic program at Sacramento State University. The group is currently in the process of becoming a non-profit organization.

Geared towards high school students ages 14 to 18, Adams said the festival directly benefits local high school theatre arts students and teachers and provides them with an opportunity to attend this interactive event each year.

“By providing professional theater artists who give immediate feedback to student performances in addition to hands-on workshops of material students bring, the Lenaea Festival strengthens theater arts education by providing supportive and interactive exchanges,” Adams said. “Lenaea is further an opportunity to engage in peer interaction and to cheer on their counterparts, while being able to see what other schools are doing.” Adams said there are also younger programs where less-experienced kids have opportunities to see what is possible in their future and establish goals to which they can strive to reach and surpass at the next Lenaea.

“Teachers incorporate attending Lenaea into their curriculum, so its value is two-fold for these educators,” he said. “Also, we know that parents, teachers, students and administrators value the award recognitions as a prestigious honor to bring back to their communities and add to the resumes of these young artists.”

Cheryl Watson is a program director at St. Francis High School. She said the festival is an important program for her students.

“The Lenaea festival is an important part of my high school theatre program,” Watson said. “Over the years my former students tell me that their Lenaea experience was a highlight of their high school career. Lenaea brings students from throughout the region together in appreciation of their art form.”

She said there are many benefits for her students that participate in the festival.

“My students benefit from seeing other schools, going to the workshops and meeting the professionals who work and encourage their efforts,” Watson said. “There is definitely a Lenaea spirit. It’s not just the three days, the medals and recognition or even the performances that make Lenaea well, Lenaea. Rather it is the legacy of being part of something creative and unique from generation to generation. Every festival has special memories for each student. The Lenaea tradition is a common shared experience that stays with my students for a lifetime.”

Adams said this year’s performance looks to be new and fresh within the walls of Three Stages.

“You can expect high-energy, enthusiasm, more than 40 plays in three days including student-written and student-directed work, hundreds of scenes and monologues and musical theatre solos,” he said. “There are teaching moments and an unforgettable experience.”

Folsom Lake College President Rachel Rosenthal is also excited to welcome the festival to Folsom.

“Folsom Lake College and the Harris Center are very excited to host this unique learning experience and these talented students from all over the west coast,” Rosenthal said. “This is a great opportunity for our youth in the arts.”

For other students looking to get involved in the festival, Adams said, they begin open registration in September of every year.

“We have a very loyal following of participating schools and intend to build the program to 65 to 70 over the next two years,” Adams said. “Students who are not participating this year are invited to attend the festival to watch all events. We also encourage volunteers to help out. We have a strong network of about 60 volunteers, including students at Folsom Lake College this year.”

For more information, visit lenaea.org.