Mena Theatre II and III classes went to the Arkansas Young Playwrights Competition on April 15th for the fourth year in a row. This year they won 1st runner up for the play What are You in For?, written by Cece Metcalf Cearley. Mark Castillo was awarded Best Actor, one of the four acting awards, for the second year in a row.
The Arkansas Young Playwrights Competition was started in 2003 by Stacey Bean, an Arkansas playwright and Henderson alum, who wanted to encourage other playwrights in Arkansas. “In the past four years, we have had five finalists (scripts chosen as the five best in Arkansas), first runner up twice, Best in State once, and several best actor/actresses awards,” said MHS Theatre Instructor Jessica Kropp.
“I am so very proud of all of my students that went to this competition this year. My students are top notch! That we have been able to go to AYPC four years in a row shows the strength of the students we have at Mena High School. We also have always taken away at least one of four acting awards presented at the award ceremony. I am very blessed. Cece worked very hard at rewriting this play for the competition. It was steep competition, and I am very happy that we were chosen as second best in the state.”
This year’s featured actors were Marcos Castillo III, Abi McPherson, Gary Boehler, Kelsey Wiggins, Jaric Shaw, Cody Gee (won a best actor award last year), and Elijah Beaty. They also had an innovative shadow box element that was thought up by Cearley. “We needed many additional actors to help with the shadow box element,” Kropp said. Those were Kara O’Donnal, Nick Sorel, Brynn Harvey, Breanna Sanders, Brittany Ducote, and Sophie Dennis.