Juneau-Douglas High School Theatre Department performed the Broadway hit “Pippin” this past August at the Fringe Festival in Edinburg, Scotland four times at the Churchill Theatre’s Main Stage. This spectacular trip began in London, where the students took a tour of the city, and watched two West End shows, “Billy Elliot” and “Stomp.” They also visited Stratford, where they took a workshop with the Shakespeare Society, took a tour of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s theater and watched the company’s version of “As You Like It.” After three whirlwind days in England, the students boarded a train at London’s famous King’s Cross Station and rode in style to Edinburg, where cheering American High School Theatre Festival staff members greeted the group while a bagpiper played a Highland welcome. The students were treated to a tour of Edinburg and were also given tickets to watch the world famous Military Tattoo performance.
As one of the schools selected to participate in the American High School Theatre Festival, a subset of the Fringe festival that recognizes some of the top high school theatre programs in the country, JDHS students met with other winners for an incredible opening ceremony full of Scottish folk dancing and music. It was a magical way to begin these students’ Fringe experience.
JDHS students performed four shows in the Churchill Theatre’s Main Stage, with all of that theater’s technology and technicians for their use. The students also received the full Fringe experience by having to pass out show flyers on the Royal Mile and performing on that famous strip, vying for audience members along with all the other Fringe performers. The street performance was exciting and memorable.
While in Edinburg, the students watched many of the other high school performances that were honored with this same award, including South High School from Anchorage. They also saw an international range of professional shows, including plays, musicals, circuses, stand-up comedy, music concerts, and improv groups. The students also visited Scottish historical sights and traveled into the Highlands for a day while visiting castles and villages. And they had a private workshop with a premier improv group from Chicago called Baby Wants Candy, who taught the students how to develop that impressive skill.
The students’ performances at the Fringe were exceptional. The American High School Theatre Festival staff members were both pleased and impressed with these talented Juneau students. The last year of fund raising was challenging and many times seemed almost impossible to accomplish. However, the trip was an unforgettable experience that these students from this little town up north deserved.
The JDHS Theatre Department would like to thank the people in the community who believed in us and helped make this dream come true to 17 JDHS students.
Juneau Douglas High School theater director