Pella Christian’s theatre troupe celebrates at All-State Festival, takes home Critic’s Choice Award

by Kaylee Bandstra/

PC’s Reader’s Theatre team, directed by forensics coach Lisa Van Gilst, received the Critic’s Choice Award for their performance of And Others at the All-State Festival at ISU on February 22.  Both Reader’s Theatre and Choral Reading received performing honors at All-State. One-Act received a non-performing honor. 

The Critic’s Choice Award is given to the top performance of each category at the All-State Festival. According to forensics director Marlo Van Peursem, over 250 Reader’s Theatre teams started at the district level. Only one earns the critic’s choice award. “It’s a huge honor for the school, the team, and their coach,” he said. 

This is the second time Pella Christian has received the Critic’s Choice Award. The first being the One Act, Orphan Train, in 2010.

The Reader’s Theatre cast was an eight-person ensemble. “I loved being a part of a smaller group because it allowed us to grow together as a team and strengthen our team bond,” said senior Emily Van Beek.

According to Van Beek, the smaller cast helped the focus on characterization, strengthening the piece. “From the very first practice, we set our sights on our ultimate goal – performing at All-State. From that point forward, we committed to early mornings – as early as 6:15-  to theatre ‘homework’, and to building a team performance, not a solo spotlight,” Van Beek explained.

And, directed by alum Cory Van Gilst, is the first Pella Christian Choral Reading piece to perform at All-State in school history. Senior Abigail Gosselink has participated in Choral Reading all four-years of her high school career. “It has been amazing to see choral reading slowly keep getting better in my four years of being in (it) and finally end up performing at the Speech Dome,declared Gosselink. 

Freshman Leah Osborn, who played the role of Rachel in the One Act Rags, appreciated her first experience with the high school forensics. “I really enjoyed large group speech,” said Osborn. “The whole experience was really fun, and it helped me to grow in my team-work skills and acting ability.”


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