Members of the Grinnell High School Group Mime Team are shown with the “Critic’s Choice” they earned at All-State Speech on Saturday, Feb. 5 at Iowa State University. Pictured are, standing, from left: Speech Coach Kevin Hosbond, Bridget Blanchard, Kalli Hart, Thea Larsson. Kneeling are: Kiran Elfenbein, Kaeden Peterson and Cora Miller, which they earned for the Group Mime production of “The Leviathan.” This is the 11th Critic’s Choice banner received by Grinnell.
By Kevin Hosbond
All-State Recap: The day began with the performance of the Choral Reading "Them" at CY Stephens Auditorium at Iowa State University in Ames on Saturday, Feb. 19. The students gave their best performance yet. Upon the conclusion of the performance, the critic for their category stated that it was "beautifully staged and beautifully performed" and thought the overall performance was a phenomenal collection of movement, singing, and text. The cast includes Chloe Alger, Sarah Ashing, Emily Cooper, Kailyn Corey, Maddie Davis, Joel Dressler, Kiran Elfenbein, Mary Jacobson, Kiran Jones, Brittany Kifer, Thea Larsson, Judith Perez-Valentin, Kayla Sieck, and Peter Simpson. The piece was written and directed by Kevin Hosbond.
Off to Solo Mime at the Scheman Building... Cora Miller gave another flawless performance of her piece "The Mousetrap." The critic judge in that center enjoyed her attention to detail and the "magically diabolical" story she created.
Later, the Group Mime "The Leviathan" performed for the same critic. He raved about their fantastic performance and complimented the progress mime has made in Iowa. The cast includes Bridget Blanchard, Kiran Elfenbein, Kalli Hart, Thea Larsson, Cora Miller, and Kaeden Peterson. Both mime pieces were directed by Kevin Hosbond and written by him with the assistance of the cast.
Next the students were off to the Alumni Building for the Ensemble Acting performance of "Whatever / Two Hanged Women." The critic admired how the performers created believably distinct characters in two very different scenes. Iris Mackenzie and Olivia Mick were the performers in that event. The piece was directed by Kevin Hosbond with assistance from Jennie Flinspach.
The final Grinnell performance was in the area of Musical Theatre at the Ames City Auditorium with the performance of "Once." The critic in this center spoke to the vocal power of the performers, their ability to create an environment using physicality and mime technique, and the vulnerability in their emotional portrayals of the characters. The cast includes Bridget Blanchard and Kaeden Peterson; the piece was directed by Kevin Hosbond with assistance from Jennie Flinspach and Michael Gookin.
The end of the day concluded with the closing ceremonies taking place at a fully packed CY Stephens Auditorium with overflow audience members watching online from the Scheman Building. Each critic gave their choice for the "Critic's Choice" award--represented by a travelling banner that will go on display in each school for the year before returning the next season. When announcing the Critic's Choice for Group Mime, critic Jason Alberty said, "It is my great honor to give the Critic's Choice award for Group Mime to...The Leviathan."
According to the IHSSA, "Approximately 24,000 students started at the district level from more than 347 schools. Now only 113 schools had groups named as Outstanding Performers and less than 1,800 students earned the right to be named as Outstanding Performers. This Critic's Choice is selected by a professional in the specific field as the top performer in the State of Iowa in that performance area for 2022."
In the areas in which we performed, only the top 20 in each category from across the entire state receive a high enough ranking to be invited to perform. So to receive a banner can be likened to winning a state championship.
It is my belief that the high honor of this banner is something shared by more than just our group of six mime students. It represents all the work, creativity, and commitment of the students who came before them as well. For me, I think this is the 29th group mime of mine to perform at All-State, so it kind of felt like a "lifetime achievement award" in a way. But in particular, these students from day one have been the easiest group to work with--every moment of rehearsal was inspiring and fun. They brought so much joy and truly fulfilled their dream.
This banner represents the 11th Critic's Choice banner received by Grinnell. It will be on display this year, and the Ramsey family has already agreed to fulfill their earlier promise of purchasing a replica to hang on the auditorium wall for years to come as they have done with the previous 10 years.