PHS Drama Students at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival

A Streetcar Named Desire at the Fringe
After seven months of fundraising and rehearsals, 10 members of the PHS Advanced Acting class traveled to Edinburgh, Scotland from August 1-13 in order to perform their show.

One of the largest arts festivals in the world, the Fringe brings together more than a thousand companies from different countries to perform in Scotland’s capital city. PHS traveled as a part of The American High School Theatre Festival, chosen as one of 50 schools to perform out of nearly 2000 applicants.

London Days and Glimpses of Olympians
PHS students Josh Berl, Connor Christiansen, August Grahn, Billy Ireland, Tlalli Moya-Smith, Maddie Pomaro, Jack Sadler, Ashley Shuster, Aliza Theis and Yasmeen Vinson, along with director Kimberly Taylor, arrived in London on August 1 in the midst of Olympic fever. “We first took a tour of London and Misty May Traynor and Kerri Walsh waved at us,” shared Josh Berl.

The students then traveled to Stratford where they toured Shakespeare’s birthplace and saw a production of Much Ado About Nothing at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre.

In Edinburgh
Once at their destination, the PHS students, along with more than 500 high school students from the US and Canada, stayed in dorms at the University of Edinburgh. They had a few days to explore and acclimate to the city before performances began.

PHS performed at the Pilrig Studio, a 100 seat venue in a beautiful church. Students carried their costumes and props in suitcases and backpacks, while the AHSTF technical crew had arranged for all the furniture. There was only one, two-hour technical rehearsal in the venue to acclimate to the new space, add all light cues, and try out the new furniture.

Performances of Streetcar were August 6-9. Ashley Shuster was excited by “the rush of realizing we were connecting with an international audience.” While the average audience at the Fringe is said to be seven people, Streetcar had two performances with 50 audience members and two sell outs. Audiences were on their feet after the shows, and many people commented on the maturity of the actors and the emotional depth of the show.

Fringe Reviews Streetcar
On the Streetcar page of the Fringe website, a patron gave this review of the PHS production: “The main characters played challenging characters convincingly and with a passion and professionalism uncommon in youth theatre. Extremely impressed, we were thoroughly entertained and my daughter was simply stunned and highly inspired. One of my Fringe highlights.” More…

A Beautiful Country Steeped in History
Besides the performances, the PHS actors were able to learn more about the history of Scotland and view its countryside as they toured St. Andrews, Scotland’s fishing villages and Highlands, as well as Stirling Castle. “The absolutely gorgeous and verdant Scottish countryside, with its many wooly inhabitants, was a highlight,” said Tlalli Moya-Smith.

In Edinburgh they attended the famous Edinburgh Military Tattoo, and spent time wandering through the famous Royal Mile with its many street performers. They also climbed Arthur’s Seat, (which forms the peak of Edinburgh’s hills), and they learned traditional Scottish Ceilidh dancing. “Every Scot we ran into was amazingly kind and funny,” reported Aliza Theis.

Appreciating the Experience and Thanking Supporters
Students were inspired theatrically as they saw eight shows at the Fringe, five by other high schools, and three other shows. Particularly impressive were the high school productions of The Exonerated, The Talented Mr. Ripley, and Urinetown.

“This trip gave me the chance to meet people that I will never forget, see shows that I wish I could do, and stay in a place that I do not want to leave, “ said Billy Ireland.

Ashley Shuster agreed and added, “I feel like this trip has solidified my experience as part of the PHS theatre program and has been the perfect event to allow me to prepare and embrace the next chapter of my life. It has been a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

The Streetcar cast and crew wants to extend a huge thanks to the PHS community for all of the support it has given this year. Jack Sadler says, “Everyone has been so incredibly supportive with the planning, fundraising, and positive spirit that you have helped us create a trip to remember. Thank you.”