by Darius Whitehurst and Critt Johnson
“Absolutely! I just enjoy it so much and if I hadn’t done it I don’t know what I’d be doing these four years,” said Bishop Sullivan senior Sara Hutchens on her love for acting.
Bishop Sullivan’s drama department took off about 12 years ago with the arrival of teacher Trey Clarkson. Before coming to Bishop Sullivan he taught in Cleveland at Mayfield High School for three years after graduating from college. He is also teaching a theatre class at Old Dominion University and directs plays at Tidewater Community College.
Since the drama department started it has seen great success. Four years ago Mr. Clarkson created the Independent School Theatre Festival (ISTF) which includes the local schools that are in our same athletic conference: Nansemond Suffolk Academy, Norfolk Academy, Greenbrier Christian, Hampton Roads Academy, and Norfolk Christian. Ever since the festival was created, Bishop Sullivan has had an actress win the best actress award.
Sarah Hutchens, one of Bishop Sullivan’s premier actresses, has won the “ISTF Best Overall Actress” award for the past two years. She also won for best overall actor at Virginia Theatre Association this year. She played the lead role as the Ballerina in the play “Identity Crisis.”
“It was awesome. It was a goal I had set for myself at the start of the year — I’m going to win best actress and so when I won it, it felt really nice and I felt accomplished,” said Ms. Hutchens.
When asked about her performance at the festival and her performance at the play on the following Friday held at Bishop Sullivan, she said she was more comfortable “here, because at the festival it isn’t even a real stage and it’s in a hotel, so you go there and you have two minutes to set up the props and stage, all your costuming.”
Mr. Clarkson’s favorite part about teaching drama to high school students is that “they have endless energy and that’s what theater needs, to bring energy and passion to a project to make it work.”
This passion is important in theater because unless actors are emotionally connected to the piece then the audience will never feel it.
Ms. Hutchens speaks for many of her fellow actors when she says “[she] really like[s] being able to put a whole lot of effort into a piece of art and performing it to a live audience, and if I could touch one person’s life in the audience or have some person really enjoy it, or if just one person could feel something that would be awesome.”
Drama is a form of art and entertainment and it takes an extreme amount of concentration and courage for the actors to get on stage and perform in front of a live audience with the pressure of perfection upon them.