Harms Fest 2018
My name is Sky Rolnick. I'm in 9th grade at Fayetteville-Manlius High school. I decided to participate in the Harms Festival because it sounded interesting, and I actually didn't have any conflicts! I had never heard of it before, so I thought it would be a fun new experience to try out. I love doing theatre and meeting other people with similar interests, so it was really just a good fit for me!
The first thing I participated in was the devising challenge. I knew what it was going into it, but this was the first time I actually got to participate in one. Our cards were "Scene must be set in a library," "All characters wearing blue have to be frozen," and "There is a character who predicts the future." We had many props, including an Instagram necklace sign, a plate, a pitcher, a green animal (frog? bird? who knows), a scarf, etc. As soon as we opened the box, a girl in my group pulled out the grey scarf and declared that we needed a sassy gay friend. Naturally, I ended up as the sassy gay theatre friend, with my Rent shirt, flannel, and scarf. Given the time limit, our personalities really shone through. As an extrovert, I definitely felt as though I took on a leadership role in the challenge. With so many people and no definite roles of who's in charge, it can be easy to get lost in the chaos of everyone's ideas and talking over each other. Together, we decided what the focus of our scene was to be (an ad for Instagram), and what roles we would all have. Our plot got a little jumbled, and we didn't have a lot of time to figure out the order of our sections, so the majority of our performance was improvised. Being the first group up was fun, because we didn't have anything to compare it to yet, and could just go do our thing. I was the only one in my group who didn't know anyone else going into it, because I wasn't with a school, but I had a lot of fun meeting different people and creating something casual with new people.
In the afternoon I attended the Movement in Theatre and Improv workshops. I have done a lot of shows, especially for an individual of my age. I have also participated in many audition workshops, so I thought I would try something new. As I pointed out in the first workshop, Movement and presence are both crucial to theatre, but they are not often actually taught. We did many focusing exercises, and worked together with a partner of small group to figure out what best worked. For improv, we learned the main "rules" of improv, and tried out some games. I go to an improv club at my school, and have already performed in a show, so the rules came naturally to me. I got to help out with a few examples. For both workshops, the groups were fairly small, and felt very inclusive and specialized to the people in the group. As someone who does not frequently hang out with other people my age (by choice-school doesn't count), it was very freeing to go into a group where I did not know anyone. I was comfortable, knowing most of the people running the program, but I also got to learn more about myself by meeting a whole new group of students. It was really interesting to hear about other students and their schools, and everyone was extremely friendly.
My favorite part of the day was the overall new knowledge of theatre. I know a lot, but there is also so much I have no clue about, and I always love learning new aspects of something I love. As aforementioned, everyone was very friendly, and I enjoyed meeting new people a lot more than I thought I would. My favorite was probably the improv workshop, because it is something that I know I enjoy doing and came in with some background experience, but still learned a lot. I also enjoyed performing in and seeing all of the devising exercises, because it is structured, but still has low expectations. Our group had time to come up with a general idea of what to do, but didn't have time to actually run it. I really enjoyed just being on stage in front of an audience of people I didn't know, and the fact that if I messed up, it didn't matter! I wish I had time to stay and watch some of the other performances, but I had a show that night. (Little Shop of Horrors at Open Hand Theater in Shoppingtown Mall!)