Area middle schools in collaboration with the Emory & Henry Theatre Department will present the Eight Annual Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) Theatre Festival on Tuesday, March 13, at the E.B Stanley Middle School in Abingdon.
Student directors Will Beaty, Spencer Black, Russ Kerr and Nicole Shumate will help stage the four short productions beginning at 6:30 p.m. in the middle school auditorium. The project is coordinated by Carol Sutton, Washington County Schools Talented and Gifted coordinator and Biliana Stoytcheva-Horissian, the head of the E&H Theatre Department.
This marks the eighth year of collaboration between Emory & Henry College and the Washington County Schools GATE program, which helps local middle school students produce their own plays. More than 800 Washington County Schools students have taken advantage of the program.
Biliana Stoytcheva-Horissian, the head of the E&H Theatre Department, expects a large audience at this year’s performances. “The program has gained popularity and community support and we expect the auditorium to be packed again,” she said.
An overwhelming interest on the part of the E&H theatre majors in this year's program led to a competitive application process for would-be student directors.
Black and Kerr were placed in Damascus Middle in Damascus and Glade Spring Middle in Glade Spring. Shumate and Beaty are working with students in E.B. Stanley Middle School in Abingdon and Wallace Middle School in Bristol.
During the Tuesday performances, the middle schools will showcase their final product after nearly two months of preparation.
"Giving back to the community is an important part of Emory & Henry College’s mission. I also strongly believe that supporting student engagement outside of the classroom is the key to providing a multifaceted education,” said Stoytcheva-Horissian.
The event is free and open to the public. Seating is limited.