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Students Step Up in IDEA Theater Festival

“Make theater. Tell a story. Make a memory."

That is just some of the encouragement in a set of instructions that was given to students participating in the annual IDEA Theatre Festival, Framed-In 2024, which takes place Tuesday and Wednesday, April 16–17, at 7:30 p.m. in the Black Box Theater in the Nichols Center for Theater and Dance.

Senior Michael Hoffman has made many theater memories. He has been in three fall plays and two winter musicals. This is his last time on stage.

“Bittersweet,” is how he described his feelings. “But more than that, I’m just grateful for the time I have had on the stage, and I'm trying to make this the best sendoff I can.”

During a practice on April 11, he was doing just that, fully immersed in his acting.

Framed-In is a unique experience in which all plays must be 8-10 minutes in length and have a writer, director, and a cast of actors. This year the theme is “media,” which can be taken as literally or as figuratively as a group chooses. Each group must contain their performance piece within the “theatrical frame” that is set on the stage. No action is permitted outside the frame.

Sophomore Abby Fullerton helped write one of the plays, which is about social media. There’s a conflict between two social media influencers “who are our age, high schoolers, so we thought people at Loomis could relate to it,” Abby said. “We wanted to talk about the negative aspects of social media and the negative impact it can have on people’s lives.”

Freshman Joy Smith wrote about a “writer’s journey and how she comes to a conclusion while writing her book. I wanted the character to be seeking validation and asking outside sources what they thought of her work.” In the end, she wanted the writer to realize she has to find her self-confidence.

Joy played Mama Morton in Chicago this year, which included a solo, “When You’re Good to Mama.” Framed-In is a much different experience.

“I feel like with this I have more creative liberties,” Joy said. “In Chicago, I had creative liberties but within my character. With this, I’m actually writing a story, and it can go wherever I want it to go. Plus, I have never written a play before, so it was a lot of fun.”

She said it took about a week to write and was a collaborative process. “I had an idea on the first day, and my cast was so helpful with certain ideas to add or leave out,” Joy said.

As practice unfolded on April 11, Theater Director David McCamish and English teacher Jane Wanninger were there to help if asked. They took notes and talked about what they observed when the groups sought advice. But this experience is very much about allowing the students to make decisions. As the instructions say, students can ask David and Jane questions, but they “will encourage you to find the answers. Make the decision with your group. Don’t be afraid of your own ideas.”

Framed in 2024 on Black Box stage

Framed-In is a unique experience in which all plays must be 8-10 minutes in length and have a writer, director, and a cast of actors. "Don't be afraid of your ideas," is one message sent to the performers.






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