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Cottonwood Heights Journal

Brighton’s students of Shakespeare find sweet success

Dec 01, 2023 08:46AM ● By Julie Slama

Brighton High’s Shakespeare team took second place overall in Cedar City at the 47th annual Utah Shakespeare Festival. (Bella Koza/Brighton High)

In “Julius Caesar,” William Shakespeare penned, “It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves.”

He suggests that people’s future is not determine by fate or destiny, but rather by their own actions.

The actions and hard work of many student-thespians became apparent during the 47th annual Shakespeare Competition, hosted by the Utah Shakespeare Festival and Southern Utah University, as many students received awards and scholarships.

A first was three Canyons School District high schools sweeping the Oxford division in four of the five categories, including sweepstakes with Hillcrest taking first; Brighton, second; and Corner Canyon, third. 

“This is the first major success in over a decade for Brighton at this competition,” Brighton High theatre director Makayla Conner said. “The team was dedicated and hardworking; every rehearsal was productive. It allowed for them to grow the scenes to the point where they needed for the competition.”

She said that now post-pandemic, several team members had been to the competition for the past several years, so they understood the dedication and hard work that was needed.

“They understand what the competition is like, and they were able to help the other teammates understand what they needed to do,” she said.

The sweep was especially sweet for Conner as she was a student of Hillcrest High’s director, Josh Long, then she student taught under Corner Canyon’s theatre director, Phaidra Atkinson.

“It was very exciting; everyone was rooting for each other,” she said. “There were about 15 schools in our division so that’s a pretty good showing for Canyons.”

One thing Canyons schools did was try to support each other during the competition.

“It was really cool; it was a camaraderie feeling which usually at competitions, you don’t get, but for this one, everyone was very united all weekend,” Conner said. “Alta High kids wrote notes for the performers. After watching each performance, they would give them these little notes saying, ‘you did really well.’ Hillcrest kids made videos of funny skits about the plays and put them on their Instagram page and tagged all the schools. Brighton kids made good luck posters for each of the Canyons schools and put some fun puns in those to wish them good luck. Some of them were so funny, I couldn’t stop laughing.”

Other placements include in ensemble, Corner Canyon took first; Hillcrest, second; and Brighton, third. In duo/trio scenes, first place went to Hillcrest’s Nayantara Nair, Ellie Spilker and Riley Thompson while Alta’s Jaycey Bennion and Addi Scarborough took second. Hillcrest’s Auston Beals, Lucas Fife and Gideon Kirby, took fourth. In monologue, Hillcrest’s Gabe Williams, Anna Fetzer and Munshe Tanjani took first, second and fifth, respectively, and Brighton’s Grace Brown took third.

Williams and Nair both received the Ray Jones $1,000 Scholarship award; Spilker and Thompson, won the Barbara Barrett $500 award and Brighton’s Jaxton Brenner was awarded the $1,000 Larry Lott Acting Award.

Hillcrest also had winners in the tech Olympics competition, including first place overall. Individual winners include Fischer Coleman, lighting; Elsie Slabbert, make-up; Cameron Sorenson, rigging; Tyler Strong, stage management. Harrison Treat earned second place in set construction and Coleman and Wesley Arbon were tech portfolio runners-up.

In dance and choreography, Brighton’s Alisa Allen, Zoe Milner and Isabelle Foote won third place in duo/trio scenes. Allen choreographed the piece inspired by “King Lear.” All 5 seniors — Allen, Milner, Alaina Burr, Sammie Falcon and Brooke Larson — who elected to participate in a dance scholarship audition received more than $40,000 combined from numerous colleges. 

In dance and choreography, Corner Canyon took second place in ensemble; and in music, second place in troubadour and third place in minstrel. 

In the Cambridge division, Jordan High’s Parker Bettinson took second place in the monologue while in the music competition, Jordan High won first in minstrel, third in madrigals and overall, second in sweepstakes

Nearby Juan Diego Catholic High, in Draper, took third place in the Westminster division ensemble. λ