Harlem High School's drama students have cleared their first hurdle to perform at an international arts festival, but there's still a long way to go until they board an airplane next summer.
From now until Christmas the 25 students, their parents and teachers will be on a frenzied pace to raise $120,000 to attend the Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland.
"We're doing something just about every weekend," said Roy Lewis, who began teaching drama full time at the school 10 years ago.
Decked out in full Scottish garb - kilt included - that he bought this summer while scouting out the Fringe Festival, Lewis helped kickoff the drama troupe's fund-raising campaign Tuesday at a dinner to recognize the students selected to take the trip next year.
The school learned several months ago that it would be one of 25 American high schools going to Scotland. About 25,000 schools from across the country applied for the honor.
Several members of the Harlem High School drama group have been selected to attend the Fringe Festival, an international arts festival in Scotland next summer.
Photo by Vicky Eckenrode
So far, the troupe has raised $12,000 through contributions and the dinner ticket sales.
Each student needs to raise $4,100 for trip expenses, such airfare, tour costs and housing. Several more thousands of dollars are needed to cover the production expenses for putting on the play the students will perform in Edinburgh.
Lewis said the group has not yet picked out what play they will perform.
"This is a tremendous undertaking for us," he said about the coming months.
On top of the 35 fund-raisers being planned, the students also will be juggling their regular school work, other extracurricular activities and the demands of a teenage social life.
Oh, and there's still the 11 local shows the drama troupe plans to put on this school year.
Rather than feel overwhelmed by what lies ahead, Harlem High senior Steven Kuss said he and the other students selected for the trip are excited about inching toward their financial goal.
"Everybody that's made it wants to go," he said. "The more motivation we have, the more likely we are to have the money to go."
The 25 students were chosen in the spring through a three-part audition that included acting, singing and dancing.
The Fringe Festival, the world's largest performing arts festival, draws more than 800,000 people and includes more than 20,000 individual performances over three weeks. Students, such as Harlem High's drama troupe, who participate in the American High School Theatre Festival portion also will spend time touring London and performing onstage in Edinburgh.
"I think they're going to be very excited," Lewis said about his students' time at the festival. "We've got kids who've never been on a plane before. It's going to be such a learning experience for them."
Junior Elyse Walden is one of those who plans to board her first airplane next summer on the way to Europe.
"I'm overwhelmed at the thought of going to Scotland," she said. "I look at it as a chance of a lifetime."
Upcoming events and performances scheduled for Harlem High School drama students raising money to visit Scotland next summer:
Oct. 11 - Drama Marathon Festival, Harlem High, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Oct. 14 - Dinner theater, , 7 p.m.
Oct. 17 - Horizons Arts Festival, Savannah Rapids Pavilion, 7 p.m.
Oct. 23 - One-act play, Monroe-Kimble Gardens in Thomson, 7 p.m.
Oct. 28 - Dinner theater, Harlem High, 7 p.m.
Nov. 4 - Celebrity Servers, Golden Corral, 227 Bobby Jones Expressway, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Nov. 8 - State one-act play competition, Class AAA,
Nov. 15, 19, 20, 22 - Hula Hoops and Halos,, 7 p.m.
Nov. 21 - Sanders Family Sing, Grace United Methodist Church, North Augusta, 7 p.m.
Dec. 4-6 and 11-13 - Sanders Family Christmas, a faculty play directed by students,,
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