The American High School Theatre Festival is the organization that conducts the selection process as well as setting up performances and the tours. We asked Jennifer Arrington from the American High School Theatre Festival to comment on these questions.
Now to address the concerns: 1) Can't just anyone perform at the Fringe? This is true, the Fringe is, and always has been, open to any and all performers. AHSTF is built with a selective process in order to provide our participants with an experience they cannot have unless they are traveling as part of a particular festival. This is why we created our nomination and application processes. As you know, before any school can apply, they must be nominated by a theater professional or alumni of AHSTF. Just being nominated means that a theater professional feels that the work you and your students are doing merits being called "one of the top high school theater programs" the professional knows of. However, just being nominated does not mean you can travel. As you have experienced, all nominated schools must complete an in depth application. This is more than just school name and address, it strives to give us and our Board a good understanding of your theater program and the students within it. As I'm sure you can attest, it also takes a substantial amount of time to complete our application. Once received from the school, every application is sent to our Board of Advisors (made up of college/university theater professionals) for review and ranking. It's from these rankings that schools are selected to participate in AHSTF. This second hurdle, that of being highly ranked by our Board, should also make the school feel very proud of their selection. Not only have you been nominated, but you have also been highly ranked (based on your application). This process is why, we believe, the school should consider their selection an honor. As you have already seen, the nomination for your students was quite impressive. You were nominated by: Elizabeth Wickman-Wozniak of the Mid-Pacific Institute Miguel Bray of the Waimea Community Theatre Erich Steinwandt of Manoa Valley Theatre Joe Pattie of Leeward Community College Additionally, Elizabeth Wickman-Wozniak had this to say about you: He's won the Milken award - performs in cafeteria and in low socioeconomic area has 95-98% of his students go to college. This is a great example of how our nomination process provides us with the names of high quality high school programs. The application and Board ranking processes that follows allows us to be even more selective when inviting schools to perform as part of AHSTF. 2) Questioning of cost? As mentioned in point 1, anyone can travel and perform at the Fringe. If you were to coordinate an experience like this on your own, I question whether it would be cheaper than our program and I know it definitely would not include everything that we provide. Just to point out a few of these differences: The difference in traveling on your own to perform at the Fringe vs. traveling with AHSTF is that on your own, you will need to book and confirm everything on yourself (this includes researching and confirming venue space, transportation (both to/from the UK as well as with the UK), accommodations, meals, working with the Fringe office, insurance and everything else that is included in your trip. Your group would also be "on their own" once in the UK. You would not have the interaction with other students that you have with AHSTF and would not have the support of our staff (or anyone else) if anything went wrong on your trip. As you know with AHSTF, all of this is provided. Not only do we research and confirm venues, but we also provide the Technical/Theatre Team to assist you prior to and during your performance. In addition, the venues we select are also outfitted (by us) with standard light and sound plots that all of our groups can use at no additional charge. As you know, many Fringe "theaters" can be pubs, meeting rooms, etc. that are often not outfitted at all. We also coordinate the accommodations, transportation (both to/from the UK as well as inside the UK), 2 meals per day, sightseeing, the Tattoo and more. While traveling, you have access to our staff 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in case any issues arise. Hopefully we've planned things in a manner that no issues do arise, but it's good to know there is someone there to help if they do - even if it's just that a participant must travel home early due to a family emergency. As you can see, there are some meaningful components that we provide that would be difficult (some would actually be impossible to provide - for example, your performance times with AHSTF are staggered with some early and some late whereas if you booked this on own they would be all at the same time with the most desirable times coming at the highest cost). However, perhaps the most important difference about traveling as a part of AHSTF vs. on your own is the interaction your students have with students from throughout the United States and Canada. The "festival" atmosphere by having everyone stay together, perform at the same venues, support each other's shows and all the other interactions they have together is invaluable (at least we think so!). Please let us know if you have any questions or need anything else. I hope you find this helpful! Thanks, Jennifer