The Wylie Theater Department ended the 2016 school year on a high note, with its one-act play advancing all the way to regionals, plus two film projects doing well in competitions.
This is the first year that Wylie has entered a film project in the UIL film competition. The Theater Department entered two films, one directed by Jose Pacheco and the other by Sierra Sutton. Sierra’s film advanced to the state quarterfinals.
“It was everyone’s first time to tackle something like this,” Sierra said. “It was a new experience for all of us. We were very pleased with how far it went.”
The film, called Infection, was a short story about a class that begins a murder-mystery project, and then students start turning up dead. You can see it on YouTube by searching for Wylie Infection.
Students from the theater classes served as actors for both films and got a taste of a different type of acting.
“It was a very unique experience,” said Maddie Lowry, who was in Infection. “It was very interesting and fun.”
Theater veteran Wade Byington, who was in the other film, called Julio, said there were pros and cons to film acting.
“It was fun to not have to pay such adherence to the script,” he said. “I like stage acting better though. You are there in the moment. It’s easier to make the character who you are on stage.”
Sierra, who is a junior, said she used the school’s lab to edit her film in iMovie. She is already planning to do three films for next year’s competition. And the experience has changed her mind about her future.
“It definitely changed my whole perspective on what I want to do in college,” she said.
The Wylie theater department also did a series of public service announcements on seatbelts, drinking and driving and distracted driving for a competition sponsored by the Texas Department of Transportation.
Wylie won the competition and received a prize of $1,200 that went to Project Graduation.
Theater teacher Chris Shoemake said Project Graduation coordinators heard about the competition and asked if the students would be interested.
“We did a PSA about each one and turned it into a little package,” Shoemake said. “And we won.”
Sierra also directed part of that project.
“It was just a fun little project that we started two days before the project was due,” Sierra said. “I thought it was fun.”
The one-act play, Playboy of the Western World, won first place at the district and bi-district competitions and 2nd place at the area competition to advance to regionals for only the fourth time in Wylie’s history.
The Wylie students tied for 3rd at regionals. Only the top two plays advance to state; however, Wylie was one of the Top 15 in the state.
“It was a really solid performance,” said Maddie Lowry, who won several acting honors along the way including Best Actress honors at both district and regionals and All-Star Cast honors at bi-district and area.
She said the ultimate goal is always to advance to state, so it is disappointing when that does not happen.
“It was hard at the time, but it was a really good experience,” she said.
Wade Byington earned Best Actor at district and bi-district and made the All-Star Cast at both area and regionals.
Jared Vos Winkel, Eric Evans and John Baker earned All-Star Cast honors at district. John also earned All-Star Cast at bi-district, and Mattie Jeter earned Honorable Mention honors at bi-district, area and regionals.
Of Wylie’s four trips to regionals, two have come in recent years since Chris Shoemake became theater director.
He has made a huge difference to the program, Wade said.
“He’s really instrumental,” Wade said. “We owe all our success to him. I would not be half the actor if it weren’t for him.”