They continue to perform well in every competition they attend, including their most recent endeavor, the 3rd Annual Eastern Kentucky Dramatic Arts Society High School Drama Festival (EKDAS).
“We did really well,” Neace said of the Players’ performance.
It could be considered a humble remark when considering the final results of the Harlan County High School-hosted festival.
The Commodore Players were awarded Best Overall Production for a play called “Homework Eats Dog,” while two of their individual members, Stella Pennington and Tim Hall, took home Best Female and Male performer. Sixteen members of the Players also won Best Ensemble Performance for a performance as one group/character.
While every drama team at schools from Ashland to Whitley City are invited to EKDAS, only four teams attended this year’s event: Harlan County High School, Knott County High School, Knox County High School and the Commodore Players.
Neace would caution, though, that this doesn’t mean it was easy for the Players to win, noting that Harlan County High performed a complete production of “The Phantom of the Opera.”
“The competition was very steep,” Neace said. “Harlan County had a wonderful production.”
Neace said he was proud of his students for doing so well against such tough competition.
“I’m extremely pleased with [my actors],” Neace said. “My experienced actors did not let me down, and some of the newer actors really stepped up and did well and we truly ended up with a marvelous production.”
The EKDAS festival is about more than just winning the competition, Neace said. It provides eastern Kentucky drama teams with the opportunity to promote themselves in a regional setting, something they may not be as capable of when competing in larger state competitions in Lexington or Louisville.
“EKDAS was established with the hope that the rest of the state will catch on and want to do regional festivals at other places throughout the state as a way to further develop regional arts programs,” Neace said.
He said it’s also hard for small troupes in rural areas of the state to raise enough money to attend state competitions, and EKDAS allows them to participate in and become familiar with drama competitions while staying close to home.
“This festival gives kids more opportunity than they have at state competitions, and be exposed to a festival atmosphere,” Neace said.
This festival is about even more than that, though, as Neace explained that when the four competing teams arrived at Harlan County High School, they all kept to themselves in their respective teams.
By the end of the day, he said all the teams were on the stage together, mingling, cutting-up and having a good time as one group.
“This festival allows [the Players] to meet students from around the region who are like them and want to perform as much as possible, just like them,” Neace said.
The Players have never performed “Homework Eats Dog” for a public audience before, but family and friends will have the opportunity to see them perform this production at Perry County Central’s annual Fine Arts Night on May 20, Neace said.
He also said plans are already underway for next year’s EKDAS High School Drama Festival, which travels to different stages throughout the region each year.
Next year’s festival will be hosted next spring by the Southeast Community and Technical College in Cumberland, whom Neace said “jumped at the chance” to host EKDAS.