The Stillwater Area High School (SAHS) Theatre Department earned international acclaim at a festival this summer.

For two weeks in early August, 28 SAHS students traveled to Edinburgh, Scotland for the International Festival Fringe, where their production of “HamLuke,” a cross between William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” and “Star Wars,” was voted Best Play and Best Technical Production.

SAHS was one of 40 high schools invited to perform at the festival, where thousands of performers presented nearly 4,000 shows on 300 stages, said SAHS Theatre Director Grif Sadow. The festival included unknown artists to big-time actors who presented in theatre, comedy, dance, children’s shows, music, spoken word and exhibitions.

“I’m so proud of my students for their professionalism. They were in a strange theater really far away from home,” Sadow said.

The students started their journey with a few days in London, where they toured and attended an acting workshop with professional actors at the famous Globe Theatre. They saw a production of “The Merry Wives of Windsor” and did some sightseeing from the London Eye.

While in Scotland, the students stayed at the University of Edinburgh, participated in musical theatre improve and technical design workshops and saw other high school and professional productions. In addition to sightseeing, the group also performed and marketed their production of “HamLuke” on the Royal Mile, a mile-long street that connects Edinburgh Castle with the Palace of Holyroodhouse.

Sadow said the students performed “four really superior shows” while responding to new challenges.

Students had 15 minutes before and after each show to set up and tear down all the set elements, props, costumes and lighting needs.

“A lot of our technical stuff we had to reassemble. Even parts of our costumes, like our R2D2,” Sadow said. “It was kind of like a fully mounted production that we traveled.”

That’s all the more impressive when considering the myriad of technical elements used in “HamLuke.”

In addition to puppetry, projections and original madrigal music, SAHS students used Star Wars character masks, Elizabethan attire and fight choreography in their performances. Sadow said they packed 14 extra bags to travel with the set, puppets, costumes and props.

“We used a lot of compression bags,” Sadow said. “Considering we had to bring everything, we had lavish costumes.”

Overall, SAHS students performed “HamLuke” under the direction of Sadow and Technical Director Brian McTier for over 600 people in Edinburgh. An added bonus — students can earn up to three college credits for their work in Edinburgh, Sadow said.

Sadow said the Best Play and Best Technical Production awards are a testament to how talented and hard-working Stillwater students are.

“They really showed up and represented the school and the community,” he said.

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