What a way to celebrate a milestone: attending the Edinburgh Festival Fringe! Jill Campbell, Troupe Director #5029 at State college Area High School, State College, Penn., lets us vicariously enjoy the summer theatre fun they had on their trip to Scotland right before her retirement.

Campbell says, “During my 30 years as a Troupe Director, I have enjoyed Dramatics so much. I have collected and catalogued articles for my students to look up and read. Everything from performance to tech articles as well as short plays and great ‘troupe experience’ articles. Thank you, Dramatics, for letting us share our troupe experience!”

Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2022

The road to Scotland was long and winding, but Campbell persevered and was able to (eventually) travel with 12 students and 5 adults to Scotland for the festival. This huge theatre adventure began back in the spring of 2019 when Campbell’s troupe received acceptance from the American High School Theatre Festival (AHSTF) to perform with them at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2020.

Those original students didn’t make the trip in 2020; in fact, no one went that year or the next. The COVID pandemic hit in 2020 and major restrictions hit schools and travel. Campbell says, “We actually took an entirely new group of students from those who were initially supposed to go, but did the same show.”

In order to make the trip to the Scotland work financially, the students and their families did all of the fundraising along with some help from the Booster Club. “Those fundraising dollars paid for more than half of each traveler’s trip, all of our add-ons, rentals and production expenses, transportation to and from the airport, and one Festival and four Fringe Show tickets for everyone,” Campbell explained. “We had one Transportation Sponsor (New Pig Energy). Our show was a children’s musical titled, The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig, so that partnership seemed somehow appropriate!”

Troupe #5029’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe in their own words

Campbell proudly said of her troupe, “We sold out three of our four shows, and I am sure a lot of that had to do with our students busking on the Royal Mile in costume. A lot of families attending the festival asked for photos with our cast members and then went online and purchased tickets. 

Bella Gallo, stage manager and light board operator

Bella Gallo served as both stage manager and light board operator for the production. Gallo told Dramatics, “The most amazing experience on the trip was getting a tech tour of the National Theatre of Scotland because I got to see a massive workspace where hundreds of sets were created, watch them in action that night, and meet others interested in theatre.” She added, “One thing I will cherish forever is the friends I made on this trip. I got so much closer with them over the course of this show and am excited to keep creating with them.”

Hannah Bloom played Flamingo

“I realized just how much theater can bring people together. It was amazing to see people from all over the world  gathered because we all love theater. I always knew theater was powerful but after the Fringe, I my outlook on theater has changed.” says Hannah Bloom (who played Flamingo in the production).

Bloom shared a true highlight of the trip when she told us, “The biggest memory I will cherish forever is talking to kids from around the worlds who saw our show. The show was perfect for kids and families. My favorite conversation after the show was with a little girl from Greece, who had the book in Greek. She was so excited to get to see the characters she knew come to life on stage. She would speak very slowly in English but when she got excited she would speak very quickly in Greek. Her mom translated for me. The little girl said I was her favorite character. It was such a special moment to see how theater affects kids everywhere.  

Bloom wrapped up the whole experience with this: “I had wanted to go to the Fringe my whole life after seeing older kids go with the thespian troupe. It was an amazing experience to get to live a dream come true!”  ♦ 

Patty Craft is Dramatics.org content manager.

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