Temecula Prep’s theater department tabbed for high school theater festival in Scotland

The Patriot Player of Temecula Preparatory School’s Theater Department perform “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” and will participate in the American High School Theater Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland, this summer. Courtesy photo
The Patriot Players, shown here performing “God of Carnage,” are raising funds for their trip to the American High School Theater Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland. Courtesy photo

The members of Temecula Preparatory School’s Theatre Department – The Patriot Players – have been selected as one of 50 high schools nationally to travel to Edinburgh, Scotland, to compete in the American High School Theater Festival in conjunction with the internationally famous Fringe Festival this summer.

According to Temecula Prep, the American High School Theater Festival is an organization that recognizes high school theater programs for excellence.

“I am so incredibly proud of my students and the work they have done over the years, and we are excited to share their hard work, dedication, and amazing talent with the American High School Theater Festival and Fringe Festival of Scotland,” Patriot Players director Joseph Arreola said. “I cannot wait for them to have this incredible experience.”

According to Arreola, he received the nomination last year and embarked on completing an extensive application to be accepted for the festival.

In order to be considered for recognition from the American High School Theater Festival, a school must first be nominated by a theater professional and more than 1,500 high schools are contacted nationally each year.

“We had to put together something like 28 pages of the application, include clips of productions we had performed, photos of eight different productions and they wanted to know what the troupe had accomplished in terms of graduates and alumni,” Arreolla said.

Fortunately, he said, the program has sent troupe alumni to prestigious universities all over the country, including New York University’s Tisch School for the Arts, California State University Fullerton, Rutgers and Cornell universities.

“It is an honor just to apply and brag about my kids and their accomplishments,” Arreola said. “We’re a tiny little high school out in the middle of nowhere and so why not try?”

Temecula Prep does not have a theater on campus, so the troupe uses theater facilities all over southwest Riverside County to host their productions.

Arreola said the troupe does about four or five productions each year.

“It tends to be a challenge when you have no place to perform,” he said.

They will perform the Tony award-winning Broadway play “The Humans” this summer at the Norris Performing Arts Center locally and take the same production to the festival in Scotland.

“The Humans” is a one-act play written by Stephen Karam that opened on Broadway in 2016 after an engagement off-Broadway in 2015. “The Humans” was a finalist for the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and won the 2016 Tony Award for Best Play.

So far, the group has raised roughly two-thirds of the money needed to bring the troupe to the festival, and they are working to raise the full $30,000 by June.

“The big endeavor is figuring out how to get the money,” Arreola said. “As a small school, we don’t have a lot of the advantages that a lot of the bigger schools have. We only have a little more than 300 students on our campus, so we don’t have a big booster club or a big base for fundraising drives. We are looking for anyone who is willing to pitch in and sponsor us.”

Despite the challenges, Arreola said he remained hopeful.

“It’s been a little challenging, but my kids are working hard,” he said. “I can’t wait to see them showcase their abilities at the festival and show what they can do.”

The Temecula Preparatory School Theater Department has been recognized with awards for their plays and musicals, including recognition from organizations like the California Educational Theatre Association, the MACY Awards and the Drama Teachers Association of Southern California.

For more information on the theater group, visit www.temeculaprep.com/academics/theatre.

For anyone interested in sponsoring or contributing to the troupe’s travel fund, contact the theater department by calling (909) 641-4612 or by email at rhuskey@temeculaprep.com.

Jeff Pack can be reached by email at jpack@reedermedia.com.