Drama students hold last-minute fundraiser

Published 8:49 pm Monday, October 17, 2011

After a summer of raising funds to attend a statewide competition, the Nansemond River High School theater students are reaching out to the community for help to meet their goal.

The students are heading off to the Virginia Theatre Association’s Secondary School Theatre Festival next week, but they are still short of the amount needed for travel and lodging.

“We’re still trying to raise about $2,000,” said drama teacher Joleen Neighbours. “We’re still doing stuff to try and raise money.”

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The students held car washes, took pledges and worked community events to raise money before the event.

As one last fundraiser, the group is putting on donation-only performances of the show they will perform at the competition.

The performances of “Scapino” will take place on Oct. 24 and 25 at 7 p.m. at the school.

Neighbours said the play is a traditional Italian comedy.

“It’s about servants that trick their masters into giving them lots of money,” she said.

At the festival, the students will compete against 43 other high school drama programs from across Virginia in various specialties of theater, such as set design and playwriting.

Neighbours said the students will gain invaluable experience through the trip.

“It’s more than just a play competition,” she said. “It’s an amazing experience for them.”

The students will get a chance to compete as a group and individually, but they also will meet several theater professionals and university representatives at the three-day event.

Neighbours said every year, she’s had students who have met someone who helped them get into college or receive a scholarship.

“It’s really a great networking tool for the students to see what is out there and become better artists,” she said.

The Nansemond River drama department has attended the competition every year since 2005 and has won several awards, including honors for on-the-spot playwriting and best actors.

Neighbours said she encourages people come out to the performances next week to support the arts and the students who are a part of them in the city.

“We need to support what’s going on in Suffolk,” she said. “One of the best investments in the community is the arts program.”