Seniors Patrick Talamantes and Savannah Symister argue during the scene "Where It Went" in the spring play "Almost, Maine." Talamantes and Symister said the scene was one of the highlights of their drama careers. (Photo by Sydney Jackson)
High-school actors and their families joined director Brian Frishman and other members of the drama department at an end-of-the-year International Thespian Society dinner on May 15. The group dined on Greek food, shared stories and memories, and bade farewell to the senior actors.
Frishman reflected on the group of students. “I thought that we had a really strong core of experienced actors,” he said.
“They got a lot better. They surprised a lot of people, including me sometimes.”
Frishman credited the seniors’ intensity and quality of work. He said that the drama members worked especially well together.
“They have a ball,” he said. “They work their butts off. They always have a great time.”
Freshman Avi Bhullar won Best Actress, and junior George Cvetich won Best Actor.
Bhullar said she was surprised when she heard she had won Best Actress.
“I was like, ‘Wait a second, what?’” she said. She hadn’t heard Frishman name the award, so didn’t realize what she had won until he had finished his speech.
Frishman said Bhullar’s performance blew him away.
“She’s a natural actress,” he said. “She can do everything. She knows how to use her body and use up all the stage. She has unlimited potential.”
Senior Patrick Talamantes said that despite Bhullar having room for improvement that she has a “far above average foundation from which to grow.”
He said that when most people start drama, they are afraid to take risks, so they get into their own heads a little bit too much.
Despite never having acted before, Bhullar does have a lot of great instincts in terms of expressing herself and trying to show a range of emotion, Talamantes said.
With the encouragement she’s received this year, Bhullar said that drama is definitely something she’ll continue next year.
Among the graduating drama students, Eric Hilton was named Best Senior Character Actor and Grant Quattlebaum Best Character Actor.
“All of (the seniors) had great performances,” Frishman said. “Some of them had really lengthy strong careers.”
According to Frishman, Quattlebaum’s acting style was “genius.”
“He’s able to physicalize the interior life of his character in very animated and unexpected ways,” he said.
Last year, Hilton played the romantic lead in “Arsenic and Old Lace.”
“He did a great job and really made the play work,” Frishman said.
Patrick Talamantes and Savannah Symister were given Thespian Awards, the highest honor.
“Savannah and Patrick really knocked it out of the park with their domestic scene in ‘Almost, Maine,’” said Frishman.
Symister and Talamantes agree that this scene, entitled “Where It Went,” was one of the highlights of their drama careers.
In the scene, one of many skits that made up the play “Almost, Maine,” Symister and Talamantes play a couple who have been married for a while. For their anniversary, they’ve gone ice skating.
Symister’s character, Marci, remembers the anniversary, but Talamantes’s character, Phil, forgets. Throughout the scene, Marci tries to hint that it’s their anniversary. Phil can sense she is mad, but Marci tries to play it off every time he asks. The tensions rise between them. In the end, as they share their feelings, they realize that it’s the end for both of them, and they part ways.
Talamantes said that this type of scene was rare, as it tried to “tap into serious, dark emotion.”
“It was something that Savannah and I hadn’t really done before,” he said. “Being able to not only do it but to do it so well and work so well together and feed off of each other so well was something that was really cool.”
Symister has usually portrayed “happy-go-lucky” characters, so this “super-dramatic” character was a role change for her.
Symister said winning the Thespian Award meant a lot.
“I had tears in my eyes,” she said. “My name’s on a plaque, and it’s going to be there for a long time. That’s pretty (legitimate). I was excited.”
For Talamantes, winning the award was a time when he felt as though he had actually done something meaningful.
Though he said he swore he’d never do it again, Frishman’s goal for next year is to get enough students interested in writing and producing a play.
Talamantes said that writing and producing that play, called “Phantom Limb,” as a class his freshman year was something he was proud of. Symister also cited working on “Phantom Limb” as one of the highlights of her drama career.