“The Visit” Cast to Perform at the International Thespian Festival


Zoe Cheung

Seniors Mar Zacharkevics and Drew Vanderbilt prepare for additional performances of “The Visit.”

Julia Nicholson, staff writer

Before their final show on Nov. 4, 2017, the cast of the Edina High School fall play “The Visit” was told numerous things: try your hardest, break a leg, and don’t goof off because adjudicators from the Educational Theatre Association are in the audience.

The Educational Theatre Association, or EdTA, is a national organization that focuses on broadening the opportunities available for students in theatre. Each year they host the International Thespian Festival in Lincoln, Nebraska to celebrate and advance the skills of high-achieving theatre students and teachers.

While this isn’t the first time Edina High School Thespians have been invited to the festivalbefore this year they’ve applied and been invited a total of three timesthe cast was pleasantly surprised when their director, John Riedlinger, sent out an email confirming their invite. “I can guarantee you, none of [the cast] was expecting it. This show is very different from previous ones [Edina] has taken,” junior Natalie Bartolomei said. Bartolomei plays one of the main characters, the mayor, who she refers to as a “typical sleazy politician.”

Rather than the typical modern musical productions EHS puts on in the fall, The Visit is a dark tragicomedy by Friedrich Dürrenmatt that takes place after World War II. It follows the story of a wealthy woman who returns to a town after many years of absence, promising to reward the townspeople with money if they kill off the man who got her pregnant before jilting her.

At the festival, EHS Thespians’ “The Visit” will have two performances, both on the main stage, in order to give all 4,000 attendees a chance to watch it.

While at the festival, the cast will have many opportunities to both strengthen and showcase their acting abilities in different workshops. “There’s workshops for everyone, it doesn’t matter if you act or or dance sing or are on crew or direct, and they’re led by pretty successful, smart people,” Bartolomei said.

In addition, the cast has the chance to watch the other ten productions invited to perform from around the U.S. “I’m just overall excited to see what the other shows chosen to perform are. We know the names and I’ve seen some of the shows [in other settings], but if it’s going to ITF, that means it’s a big deal,” sophomore Hannah Andruss said.

With the festival being in June, the cast has many months ahead of them before they take “The Visit” to the stage again. “We’re going to have more rehearsals throughout the year and that’s going to be on top of the winter show [happening] right now and the spring show, Bartolomei said. “I thought I was done, and I forgot my lines. The mayor speaks a lot and he speaks really fast so [I’m] going to have to get back on track.” As for the entire cast, “what they’ve done in the past is basically right when school gets out we’re going to [start] rehearsing everyday a week or two before [the festival],” Bartolomei said.