For 15 years in a row, the Payson High School Drama Department has won the Gold Honor Troupe plaque from the Arizona State Thespian Society (ASTS).
“We’re judged on the quality of our work,” said Kathy Siler, director of the Drama Department.
ASTS started in the mid-1970s to provide quality theatre and educational experiences through networking opportunities and workshops.
The ASTS award recognizes the PHS Drama Department as one of the most active thespian troupes in the state. To qualify, the Drama Department submits a dossier on the previous year’s work, said Siler.
The award is based on both plays and one act presentations plus the community service efforts of the troupe, including food drives, talking to students about drug abuse, and events in town. The awards also take into account field trips and seminars.
“The judges find Payson’s community service above and beyond. Our mission is to educate, entertain and enlighten,” said Siler.
This year, the troupe put on the play “ADDICT” to educate students about the dangers of drug abuse. Thomas Walling, director of the play, auditorium director and Siler’s right-hand man, took “ADDICT” and turned it into a one act version for the annual Thespian Festival put on by ASTS. Some 2,000 drama students from 85 troupes around the state gathered to watch the performance in downtown Phoenix. The Payson performers received three superiors from the judges with points totaling 45.3 out of 50. These points earned Payson a second place in the state competition. This marks the second year the drama program has taken second place.
On top of these honors, ASTS presented a plaque to Siler in recognition of her late husband John’s lifetime work in the theatre arts in Arizona. ASTS also started a statewide thespian scholarship after him.
“I was shocked and honored they did that. I had no idea they planned to do that,” said Siler.