The 2022-23 school year has been one to remember for the Cherokee High School drama program. Theatre Director and Fine Arts Department Head Jodi Burn and her students brought home several awards from the one-act statewide competition and the state literary meet.
At regional and state competitions, seven to eight schools perform one-act plays. Each school has 55 minutes to set the stage, act out the performance and remove the set from the acting area. Students rehearse the performance and timing of the show for months prior to the competition. Both region and state are judged by three judges, using a rubric provided by Georgia High School Association. If awarded the top school at the regional competition, the school continues on to state competition.
This year, 10 Cherokee High drama students performed “Charley’s Aunt,” taking first place at the Regional One Act Competition, and runner-up at the State One Act Competition. The performance marked the first time the high school has placed at state since the early ’80s.
In addition, junior Wyatt Darnell was named Best Actor (region and state), and senior Lily Richard took home the honor of regional All-Star Cast.
The regional and state literary meets are similar to a track meet. Many different disciplines come together, including writers’ narrative, argumentative and literary analysis; two students mastering the art of speech, domestic and international; choral groups with male and female solos; a men’s quartet and a women’s trio; and comedic, dramatic and duo interpretations. In dramatic interpretations, each set of students performs an eight- to 10-minute memorized script, with multiple
characters being interpreted.
At the Regional Literary Meet, Lily, Wyatt and junior Emmanuel Mwangi, along with more than 10 other peers, thrived. Lily and Wyatt performed “Pinocchio,” a duo piece. They left their hearts on the stage, performing more than five characters between the two of them, and placed first. Emmanuel, state comedic winner for 2022, did a dramatic monologue called “Cassius Clay,” performing more than five characters himself, and also placed first for region.
Cherokee High placed first overall for the region, bringing home the trophy. Lily, Wyatt and Emmanuel moved on to the state competition. State was held at Buford High School, where the three performed again. Emmanuel placed third, and Lily and Wyatt placed first — Wyatt’s second state acting achievement this year. Read on to learn more about Emmanuel, Lily and Wyatt and the awards they’ve received.
• Best Actor — Regional One Act Competition
• Best Actor — State One Act Competition
• First place in Duo Interpretation — Regional Literary Meet (with partner Lily Richard)
• First place in Duo Interpretation — State Literary Meet (with partner Lily Richard)
• Runner-up Male Soloist — Regional Literary Meet
“To me, these awards, especially best actor at state, prove that I am capable of possibly fulfilling my dream: being on Broadway someday. The title alone is nice, and all. But, to me, the weight that comes with the titles and the potential they hold, the opportunities they create — one act, literary meet — are more important to me than anything.”
• All-Star Cast — Regional One Act Competition
• First place in Duo Interpretation — Regional Literary Meet (with partner Wyatt Darnell)
• First place in Duo Interpretation — State Literary Meet (with partner Wyatt Darnell)
“I’m incredibly grateful to have spent these past four years with Wyatt, Emmanuel and the other members of our troupe, to work toward these achievements. As I move into a new stage of my life, I look forward to pursuing education at Kennesaw State University, while still valuing the lessons and blessings I’ve experienced through the stage. I am thrilled to have been selected to be an intern at Church Hill Theater’s summer program in Maryland. The program introduces young actors to performance and improves their confidence, on and off the stage. This opportunity is special to me, as I wish I would’ve had an outlet like their summer program to feel more confident with myself as I grew up.”
• First place in Humorous Interpretation 2022 State Literary Meet
• First place in Dramatic Interpretation 2023 Regional Literary Meet
• Third place in Dramatic Interpretation 2023 State Literary Meet
“Performing my own little show makes me feel amazing. I do it because it feels like a way of sharing my talents and my opinions with an audience who doesn’t know me. Whether I’m telling jokes or telling a heartwarming story, I’m loving every second of it.”