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CB East Patriot Players to compete for national and international recognition

by Christine Wolkin

Last December, the Central Bucks East Patriot Players (CB East High School’s drama club) competed against high schools from all over the Pennsylvania at the State Thespian Conference in York, PA, for a chance to represent Pennsylvania at the International Thespian Festival this summer.

There they were honored with the recognition of “Outstanding One-Act Play,” for the company’s number of “I Never Saw Another Butterfly,” about the children of Terazin during the Holocaust.

In addition to this honor, the Patriot Player’s company of “I Never Saw Another Butterfly” has been chosen to represent the Central Bucks East School District at the International Thespian Festival in Lincoln, Nebraska, this summer from June 19th through 24th.

“The troupe is honored and excited to attend,” said parent Jennifer McClellan, adding that the students are eager to “provide community recognition for this outstanding achievement.”

Every summer for the past 70 years, thousands of high school thespians bring their love of all things theatre to the International Thespian Festival, a celebration of student achievement in the performing arts.

Organized by the Educational Theatre Association and hosted by the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, the festival is a one-of-a-kind, weeklong immersive experience in singing, dancing, acting, designing, directing, creating, writing, and memory-making, according to the association’s mission statement.

The festival features workshops presented by theatre professionals, individual and group performances, programs for technical theatre students, and opportunities to audition for college admission and scholarships.

Preparing for the festival will take more than practice. The Patriot Players are raising money to fund their transportation to and from the festival, as well as to cover the costs of the full week at the conference.

“In order to send the cast, crew and directors to the International Thespian Festival in Lincoln, Nebraska, we need to raise approximately $30,000.  We are about half way to that goal at this time,” said Sasha Eisenberg, advisor and director of CBE Patriot Players.

The troupe has received some support from the district and several local businesses. In addition to district and community financial support, the club will also raise funds with a performance of their award-winning one-act, “I Never Saw Another Butterfly” this May (date to be announced) as well as additional student run fundraisers.  

Based on a true story, “I Never Saw Another Butterfly,” follows the journey of Raja Englanderova, a young girl living in the Jewish ghetto of Terezin during the Holocaust. Raja befriends a young boy and together they unite the segregated boys’ and girls’ houses in the form of a secret newspaper.

While the story is permeated with loss and anguish, it is one also infused with hope. The competition play was produced this past summer with a cast of 11 and a crew of three and directed by Sasha Eisenberg with additional support from Lydia Fichtman (producer), Mike Grieco (technical director), and Lori Jones (costume).

The CB East Patriot Players have been in existence since the first fall of CB East in September 169. Currently, the Patriot Players is the largest club at CB East with approximately 130 students, who often describe their club as a second family.

Club members from all grades, 10th through 12th, are involved in productions, trips and special events throughout the school year. The drama club’s current production is “Beauty and the Beast,” which has a student involvement of 50 cast members, 50 crew members, and 20 orchestra members. The students practice five days a week before and after school hours.

Tickets can be purchased for “Beauty and Beast” (which runs March 31st through April 2nd, online or at the school. Please be advised, however, that the April 2nd matinee has sold out.

If you would like to donate to the Patriot Players’ trip, you can visit their GoFundMe campaign at https://www.gofundme.com/cb-east-patriot-players. For more information about the Patriot Players, visit http://www.cbsd.org/patriotplayers.

PHOTO CAP: CB East Patriot Players