Ellington Thespians to Perform in Scotland

High School Theater Group Selected for International Festival

By Brad Drazen
|  Thursday, Apr 5, 2012  |  Updated 7:55 AM EDT
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Ellington High's award-winning Open Knight Players theater group has won a spot at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Ellington High's award-winning Open Knight Players theater group has won a spot at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

When opening night's around the corner, Ellington High School's "Opening Knight Players" get to work and that work is getting them international attention.

Lyndsi Skewes, a high school senior and the group president, said the students shoulder the load.

"We form the props and the sets and costumes and makeup. We all do that all ourselves," Skewes said.

Bill Prenetta has led the program for the past 22 years.

"When I got here, (there) was no formal drama program," he said.

He wants students to know that there's a place for them in the theater -- whether on stage or off -- and particularly for kids who aren't involved in sports or other after school activities.

Michaela Whiting. a senior, said that is a perspective the players themselves share.

"In some parts, we're misfits or outcasts, and for me, the biggest part of the organization is trying to welcome in the new kids," Whiting said. "Now, as a senior, I'm just really proud of the family we've made."

This summer, the theater family is taking its show on the road to the prestigious Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Out of a pool of 1,000 applicants, only 40 schools in the United States and Canada were selected to perform at the festival.

Getting accepted was the first obstacle. Paying for the oportunity was the next. Prenetta said the group has raised about 2/3 of the $60,000 they need to get to Scotland.

'They're paying for their food, housing, travel. I'm trying to raise the money for what it costs to perform at the venue," Prenetta said.

Confidence is high that the rest of the money will come in and the students will cross the pond on Aug. 22 to perform for an international audience.

"Tthe most exciting part is the bond we're going to form with the other kids that are going. It's like we're all on a ship and making sure it gets where it needs to go," Whiting said.

Mister P., as he is known to his students, will be steady at the helm.

"I had $300 to start with, and now we do five productions a year," Prenetta said.

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