Nipomo drama students raising money to perform in Scotland

slinn@thetribunenews.comApril 29, 2014 

When Atascadero High School students perform at Scotland’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe this August, they’ll be paving the way for another group of young thespians.

About 15 Nipomo High School students will perform at the esteemed arts festival in August 2015, marking the school’s second trip to Scotland in recent years.

“We’re traveling to a global mecca of theater,” said Nathan Emmons, Nipomo High drama director.

Both trips are being facilitated by the American High School Theatre Festival program, which gives drama students from the United States and Canada a chance to showcase their skills on the international stage.

About 30 Atascadero High students will present four performances of the musical “Footloose” this August at the Church Street Theatre in Edinburgh, according to Catherine Kingsbury, who heads the school’s theater program. She also oversees the drama program at Atascadero Fine Arts Academy.

Roughly a year later, Nipomo High students will perform for Festival Fringe audiences.

Although he’s not sure which show they’ll present, Emmons said he’s considering “Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind,” a collection of short plays by the Chicago theater collective The Neo-Futurists.

“It will go over very well over there,” Emmons said, noting that his students are already familiar with the Neo-Futurists thanks to a class project.

In 2011, nine Nipomo High students performed the musical “Nunsense” at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe under the leadership of Robyn Metchik, who retired in 2012 after leading the school’s drama department for a decade. Three of those students are still in Emmons’ drama class, he said.

Emmons, who has taught drama and English at Nipomo High since August, said he’s eager to introduce more students to what is considered the largest arts festival on the planet. Coincidentally, students at his previous post, Eureka High School, were invited to attend the festival this year but withdrew because of financial concerns.

“We will be rubbing shoulders with performers from all over the world,” including actors, clowns and street buskers, Emmons said. “(My students) will be able to observe the kind of skill and talent there is out in the world, and what profession they’re moving into.”

In particular, he wants his students to learn about the importance of teamwork.

“I’m hoping that they can gain (perspective on) the value of ensembles and supporting each other and not just wanting to be in the spotlight themselves,” Emmons said.

Emmons will accompany the students on a two-week trip to England and Scotland along with two other adult chaperones. He and his students hope to raise $120,000 to $140,000 to cover travel expenses.

“We definitely need as much help as we can get,” Emmons said.

How to help

Those interested in donating to the Nipomo High School drama department can email Nathan Emmons at nipomodrama@gmail.com.

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