Charles Britton, 16, of Portales High School waited Saturday with hundreds of other teenagers at Eastern New Mexico University’s Theatre Center to hear awards announced.
To his surprise, he won a certificate for excellence in acting at the event, called the ENMU Drama Festival Awards Ceremony.
He was among about 500 students from New Mexico high schools and an Odessa, Texas, drama company for students who participated in three days of plays at the university’s Drama Festival.
“We worked hard on our play, and we weren’t sure how everyone would react,” Britton said. “The audience laughed, and I didn’t expect that,” he said of the comedy titled, “Will Somebody Please Tell Me What’s Going on Here?”
Britton acted in the play with three other Portales High School cast members: Jason Dictson, Melissa Maloney and Desiree Markham.
Hillary Reeves was stage manager, and Miranda Brown and Brandon Bennink were stage technicians.
Dictson said the play won three awards. The two other awards were certificates for excellence in stage directing and excellent ensemble.
“It’s great for the students,” Dictson said of the drama festival. “It broadens our horizons.”
The awards ceremony culminated a week’s worth of plays at the university in which teenagers were judged for acting ability, set creation, costumes, makeup and other skills associated with drama.
Bill Strong, a drama teacher at Portales High School, who selected the play, said it was written by ENMU Professor James Lee, who also directed it for the students.
“He let us do the play free gratus,” Strong said of Lee. “He’s got worlds of experience, and I think he enjoyed it. It’s always different when you’re acting for the playwright, because he knows how he wants the actors to interpret the play.”
Strong said the unique thing about the drama festival was seeing 500 kids who live in their own schools get together and have fun.
“The plays were really good this year,” Strong said. “All the schools put forth their best effort.”
Miranda Brooks, of Kaleidoscope, an Odessa, Texas, acting company, also was at the festival awards ceremony.
“We did two plays, and the college kids held a workshop to teach techniques they’ve learned,” Brooks said.
“I participated in a play titled, ‘The Miracle Worker.’ It was about Helen Keller. We’re the only group here that wasn’t a high school.”
High schools that won certificates and plaques for during the festival included:
Mayfield High School — acting and character choice; Jefferson High School — set crew, technical production, ensemble performance, technician and character choice; Cliff High School — ensemble performance, technical production, stage movement and set design; Carlsbad High School — comedic acting, ensemble performance, technical production and design projects; and Moriarty High School — stage movement, scenic element, ensemble performance, student directing and acting.
Also included were Los Alamos High School; Silver High School — play selection, stage movement, overall performance, acting and ensemble performance; Portales High School — acting, technical production and ensemble performance; and Burgess High School — acting, character choice, stage movement, ensemble performance and stage element.
Other winners included Santa Fe High School, Valley High School, Roswell High School and Albuquerque High School.