BCHS sweeps serious solo gold, silver, bronze

State A Speech, Drama and Debate

Dr. Cornelia Wilbur, played here by Jade D’Esposito, left, comforts her patient, Sybil, played by Josey Creger.  The scene was played out Jan. 29 as part of the Speech and Drama Showcase presented at the Depot Theatre by the Beaverhead High School speech and drama team. The evening show highlighted outstanding performances drawn from the just-concluded regular speech and drama season. Dick Crockford photo

Beaverhead County High School students Josey Creger, Abbey Thomas and Elizabeth Ostler claimed gold, silver and bronze in serious solo at the state speech, drama and debate meet in Hamilton last weekend, placing Dillon to a fifth place finish in the drama division. That team finish may be even higher next year as all three students will be eligible to participate.

“It has been a crazy couple of weeks for our team,” said Dillon coach Maria Hansen. “I am so proud of these girls and think each and every one of them are exceptional young ladies. It was so exciting to watch them as they awaited their awards and to watch their faces as the placement was announced and they realized that they were the top three finishers.”

Dillon junior Josey Creger added the state championship to her hardware total that includes three consecutive divisional titles and state silver from a year ago to add to this year’s gold medal performance.

Creger chose “The Stoning of Soraya M” as her performance piece. The tale is a true story written by Freeidoune Sahebjams of an “inconvenient wife,” a drama set in 1986 Iran.

“She is accused of having an affair because her husband wants to get rid of her so he can marry a 14-year-old girl,” described Creger. “There is a big trial and her sons and father and all of the other men in the village find her guilty and she only has one hour to say goodbye to her daughters before she gets stoned to death.”

Creger’s finale shows the wife crumbling to the ground and her death under the weight of the cruel punishment. Creger than tells the audience that in the past 15 years, over 1,000 women have been stoned to death in Iran and the surrounding countries.

“It made me appreciate the rights that I have in America compared to what other women are going through in other countries,” said Creger. “I put all of my emotions into it because it is such a touching story.”

Creger explained that the key to her title success was her desire to expose the mistreatment of women in other parts of the world and to illustrate how lucky women are in America.

“I really wanted to do her story justice,” said Creger.

For the place winners, the state meet allows the competitors to do justice to their performance piece. The format dictates that the competitor give the performance seven times over the two-day meet, three times on Friday and four times on Saturday. The worst score of the seven is eliminated and cumulative scores from the other six rounds determine place winners.

In serious solo, there were 24 competitors divided into three groups of eight. During each round, performances were ranked first through eighth by the judges, with the lowest scores the best.

“We work off each other,” said Creger of the chemistry between the three teammates competing in the same event. “All through every meet we’d ask each other, how did that round go or what can I improve on?”

Abbey Thomas, a sophomore competing in her first year of drama at BCHS, brought experience from attending acting camps at Montana Western and participating in Montana Children’s Theatre productions. At her first state meet, she earned a silver medal.

“I played Miss Havisham from ‘Great Expectations’ by Charles Dickens,” described Thomas. “She is a woman who has basically lost her mind because she has been destroyed by men. Now she is out to take revenge on all men. She is using her daughter to manipulate men and hurt them in the way that they hurt her.”

Thomas said her success at the state meet came from her ability to embody the character through a process in which she came to understand what her character went through. Her process included watching the movie Great Expectations.

Elizabeth Ostler, a junior, capped Dillon’s sweep in the serious solo category. She chose “Winds of Death” as her performance piece.

“It was on the dust bowl and a woman that killed all of her children because she goes crazy,” said Ostler. “I really love my piece and I worked really hard on it. I think that helped me a lot because if I had a piece I didn’t like, I wouldn’t have worked as hard.”

In addition to the three medal winners, Carmen de los Rios placed seventh in serious oral interpretation. Other BCHS state qualifiers included Maggie Maggie, Finley Andrew, Jace Kuntz and Curen Felicini.

In the team standings, Corvallis claimed their fifth straight drama championship and Columbia Falls won their eighth consecutive speech title.