For the first time in district history, a Rio Rancho drama program has captured a state championship for drama. And their production was a monster! Literally.
The Rio Rancho High School Troupe 5812 Thespians won the New Mexico Activities Association One-Act Play competition in October in Las Cruces. The NMAA is best known for conducting state athletic tournaments, but also oversees and awards state titles for academic programs and student activities. The purpose of the competition is to nurture the appreciation of theater arts by encouraging participants to take on the roles of actors, designers, stagehands, and audience members of one-act plays.
The group, coached by Rams drama teacher Gael Natel, produced the play “Monster,” by Don Zolidis. Forty-six students participated in the production, the largest cast and crew in RRHS’s 13-year history of participating in the competition. Students have 35 minutes to set up, perform, and strike the scenery for their productions. They are judged both on what happens onstage – the acting and presentation – and the stagecraft. Thirty percent of the score is weighted to the performance of the stage manager and backstage crew.
About 20 schools participated in the competition in two divisions (Athens, for larger schools with active drama programs, and Sparta, for smaller schools). College professors and theater professionals act as judges, and also hold workshops for the students.
Rio Rancho High’s drama program includes productions year-round but is best known for its spring musicals, which also include dance, choral, and band and orchestra students. This year’s production, Big Fish, will be presented in April.