Grinnell Speech receives the ‘Critic’s Choice’ banner in Group Mime for second year-in-a-row
The Grinnell High Speech program received the “Critic’s Choice” Award banner in Group Mime for a second year-in-a-row at the Iowa High School Speech Association (IHSSA) Large Group All-State Festival on Saturday, Feb. 18 at Iowa State University. Group Mime, shown with teacher Kevin Hosbond, at left, performed “The Heist.” This is the 12th “Critic’s Choice” banner received by Grinnell. The banner will be on display in front of the auditorium.
A group of 40 out of 60 GHS Large Group Speech Team students traveled to Ames on Saturday, Feb. 18 for the Iowa High School Speech Association (IHSSA) Large Group All-State Festival. Thirty of those attendees were designated All-State performers and gave their final performances of the season in front of professional critics.
The day began with the performance of Kalli Hart’s Solo Mime “My Very First Dragon” at the Benton Auditorium followed by Cora Miller’s Solo Mime “3017: An Escape Tale.” Critic Paul Kalina of the University of Iowa appreciated the poetic nature of Hart’s storytelling as well as the distinct characterization offered by Miller. Hart and Miller worked with Kevin Hosbond to create their stories.
The next performance was “Young Frankenstein” in the area of Musical Theatre at the Ames City Auditorium. Will Dahlby Albright, Olivia Mick, and Brody Petig gave yet another outstanding performance, leaving the packed house completely energized. Critic Karoline Myers of Des Moines Performing Arts recognized the joy and maturity they brought to such a comical musical, also noting how their physical commitment to the roles contributed perfectly to the performance. The ensemble was directed by Hosbond with Michael Gookin assisting musically.
Soon after that event, the Choral Reading “Lift” took the stage at CY Stephens Auditorium. All 15 students involved felt they gave their best performance to date. Critic Teresa Jackson (IHSSA Hall of Fame) of Iowa Central Community College applauded their movement, stage pictures, costuming, and artful use of vocal dynamics to create the choral sound they achieved. She enjoyed their mimicry of hummingbirds, airplanes, and all the soundscapes involved in the environment they sculpted. The cast includes Chloe Alger, Sarah Ashing, Emily Cooper, Maddie Davis, Joel Dressler, Kiran Elfenbein, Mary Jacobson, Kiran Jones, Maggie Kaup, Britt Kifer, Ketsia Kiphanzu, Erin Nicklas, Judith Perez-Valentin, Ezra Praitis Hill, and Peter Simpson. The piece was written and directed by Hosbond.
Following Choral Reading it was time for Readers Theatre in the Scheman Building. “The End of the Road,” directed by Jennie Flinspach, performed for critic Elizabeth Hansen of Grinnell College. Hansen commented on not only the powerful commitment to storytelling by the actors, but also the layers of staging and the importance of such a story in today’s world. The cast includes Forrest Behrens, Tiernan Boggs, Tobias Crandall, Roman Mackenzie, Reece Madren, Charlie Nicklas, Natalie Nieuwsma, Catherine Schubert, Cameron Thompson, and Jeslyn Voogd.
The final Grinnell performance of the day was the Group Mime “The Heist.” Critic Paul Kalina raved about their staging, their imagery, their attention to scale and tempo, and of course the physical commitment to telling such an epic story. The cast includes Chloe Alger, Maddie Davis, Kiran Elfenbein, Kalli Hart, Olivia Mick, and Cora Miller. The piece was written and directed by Hosbond with the assistance of the cast.
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. Senior Erin Nicklas served as the medals page for GHS, carrying out the role of collecting the team’s 36 All-State medals. Kevin Seney (IHSSA Executive Board and Grinnell High School Principal) assisted in handing out medals to all the participants from across Iowa.
Each critic then gave their choice for the "Critic's Choice" award--represented by a traveling banner that goes on display in each school for the year before returning the next season. Senior Kalli Hart served as Grinnell’s banner page this year as GHS was set to return last year’s Group Mime banner. Yet when the time came for the announcement, it was revealed that Grinnell would once again be bringing the banner home for its performance of “The Heist.” Critic Paul Kalina said that the performances he saw that day were gifts to him.
According to the IHSSA, "123 Iowa high schools had groups selected as ‘Outstanding All-Staters’ at the IHSSA All-State Large Group Speech Festival held on Feb. 18 at The Iowa State Center in Ames. Approximately 24,000 students started at the district level from 466 school memberships. Approximately 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 a top performer in the State of Iowa in that performance area for 2023.”
In the areas in which GHS 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.
Of this second Group Mime banner, Hosbond noted, “Receiving the Critic’s Choice for a second year-in-a-row was a completely unexpected and amazing closure to our season. These six students worked harder than I could ever imagine and rose to every challenge I gave them with excitement and fearlessness. We share this banner with every mime student that ever roamed the halls of GHS.”
This banner represents the 12th “Critic's Choice” banner received by Grinnell. It will be on display this year in front of the auditorium. The GHS Speech Team extends gratitude to the Ramsey Family Foundation who continues to fulfill their standing promise of purchasing a replica to hang on the auditorium wall for years to come.
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