Thespian Festival: Overnight drama excursion brings excitement, opportunities to students


Like a clock ticking down to the final hour, this is what senior Hannah Ragland has been waiting for.

“I’ve been waiting to get a lead role for three years and it has finally happened,” she said.

Ragland was named the lead role of “Leah” in CMR Drama’s Thespian Festival performance, Circus. The Thespian Festival takes place annually at the University of Montana. This year thespians from around the state spent Feb. 8-9 at the Missoula campus.

This year CMR brought home the Outstanding Ensemble Award for the fourth year,  as well as Outstanding Set Design.

“Everyone always looks forward to CMR at Thes Fest because they know we will be really good,” Ragland said.

She has attended the Thespian Festival since her sophomore year and she said, CMR is the school to beat.

“[Other schools] have been stepping up their game with the goal of beating us,” she said. “It’s almost as if the other schools are starting to cross the line with their plays because we’ve been over the line for so long.”

During Ragland’s sophomore year, CMR performed “One lane Bridge” then her junior year they performed “Emotional Baggage.”

“[Emotional Baggage] was a play that didn’t have any words. It was complete actions,” she said. “Last year we got awarded Best Creative Piece because they didn’t really know where to put our silent piece. They made a new group for us.”

Besides the awards, the University of Missoula rewards multiple scholarships to students who participate in all areas of theatre.

“They have the seniors audition to get a scholarship,” she said. “I’m not going for any scholarships this year because I’m not majoring in drama.”

Fellow thespian and senior Samantha Tracy was awarded a  Technical scholarship based on her design abilities  on Feb. 8. The set design, also designed by Tracy recieved the Outstanding Set Design award.

Tracy has worked on sets for various CMR plays including 1940’s Radio Hour, The Foreigner, and Circus. It wasn’t until her junior year when she became involved in stagecraft.

“I felt like I was much better at designing than acting,” Tracy said.

Tracy is head of the stagecraft design for plays.

“I get to be in charge of everything. Mr. Evans just tells me what he wants then I get to make tweaks and change it,” she said.

According to Tracy, the set for “Circus” was difficult for Evans and her to get a consensus on.

“[He wanted] so many different things,” she said.

The end result was an entire clown, mouth open, meant to be scaring the audience.

“I did the clown and Alicia Fowler did the other two flaps,” Tracy said.

Tracy said she enjoys her time in stagecraft.

“It lets me work at my own pace. Here I am free to do my own thing and I get credit for it,” she said.

Like Tracy, Ragland takes enjoyment from the Drama Department.

“It gives me a chance to become somebody else by being more of myself.”