Hoboken Theatre Receives International Recognition

Hoboken HS Theatre Department Receives International Recognition Honored to be New Jersey's chosen “Chapter Select Play” Stage production for the International Thespian Festival 2023
Posted on 06/28/2023

Hoboken HS Theatre Department Receives International Recognition

Honored to be New Jersey's chosen “Chapter Select Play”  Stage production for the International Thespian Festival 2023.

Hoboken, NJ, Wednesday, June 28, 2023 — The Hoboken High School Theatre Department (Troupe #7268) has been selected as one of twenty schools internationally to be featured on the Main Stage of the International Thespian Festival 2023. 

Hoboken High School is the 1st school in the State of New Jersey to be selected with the honor of being featured on the Main Stage for the International Thespian Festival in 2021, which has been held annually since 1941.  Their  production was viewed by thousands of thespians and school districts from around the world. 

This year, Hoboken High School Theatre Department (Troupe #7268) had six exhilarating days at The International Thespians Festival from June 18th-23rd at Indiana University Bloomington, Indiana. There were approximately 300 thespian troupes from 5 different countries at ITF this year. (around 6000 people) Students who attend the trip were: 

Sihana Alaj

Anthony Barahona

Halie Benway

Mable Blischke-Villavicencio

Miguel Cabelin

Naomi Cooke

Lucas Daly

Riddhi Damani

Kendall McDonough

Alana Rivas

Gabriel Rivas

Arcadio Torres

Shai Warshawsky

Daniel Weintraub 

Hoboken High School was honored to be New Jersey's chosen “Chapter Select Play” and therefore received a time slot to perform on stage. The Troupe performed "Teen" written by Kristen Doherty. Both Mr. Kinnear and Ms. Miller was incredibly proud of our students.  The students had a very receptive audience and received compliments all week on campus from complete strangers who were moved by their talents. 


The International Thespian Festival 2023 opening ceremonies kicked the celebration of theatre off with Broadway actress Ashley De La Rosa from Mean Girls and Hamilton as the MC.  Over the course of the trip, students were then able to take workshops with professionals in the field of theatre such as "Rigging & Knot Tying”, “& Juliet Jazz-Pop Dance”, “American Sign Language (ASL) in Musical Theatre”, “Family Album world premiere showcase”, Improvisation”,  and so much more.  While at ITF students were also able to watch amazing performances from the best high school shows this school year.  They included Lean Me a Tenor, Antigone in Munich, The Color Purple, Damn Yankees, Matilda, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, and many Chapter Select One Acts.  


Our very own Mable Blischke-Villavicencio & Kendall McDonough won an International Thespy’s Duet Acting Award.  Only twenty duet groups out of the entire festival received this honor.  


Mable Blischke-Villavicencio said, "Going to the ITF for my second time was such a great experience! I had the privilege to compete for a Thespy International Acting Award with my scene partner, Kendall McDonough, and together we achieved a superior rating! Getting to attend workshops and see the main stages made my experience so much fun! Along with this, getting to participate in the festival with my own troupe and other thespians around the country made me fall in love with theater all over again! Can’t wait for next year, and what our troupe will accomplish!"


Additionally our students showcased their talents through college auditions, tech challenges such as legging a platform, knot tying, sewing, and hanging a light, and the Thespy® Awards. A “superior” rating on a state level enables winners to compete against all the other state level winners at ITF for an International Acting Award. 


We were also honored to be New Jersey's chosen “Chapter Select Play” and therefore received a time slot to perform on stage.  Only twenty schools from around the world received this recognition.  It was a rewarding experience performing "Know Your Role" written by Brandi Owensby.  They had a very receptive audience, received a standing ovation, and received compliments all week on campus from complete strangers who were moved by their talents. 


Troupe 7268 forged the journey into the world of technical theatre. Tech Challenge is a fun and educational moment for students to compete in various mini events, each focused in a different area of technical theatre. We had Lucas Daly hanging and focusing a stage light to fit into a taped out area. Halie Benway and Anthony Barahona legged a platform, consisting of bolts, washers and their handy dandy wrenches of course. Riddhi Damani, Sihana Alaj, and Shai Warshawsky worked together to complete a costume quick change including any accessories their character might need. Gabriel Rivas put his safety skills to the test in the rigging and knot tying category, completing three different knots in total.


Sihana Alaj whizzed through the costume construction section of threading a bobbin and sewing machine. Arcadio Torres and Shai Warshawsky honed into their inner prop master by completing the prop table activity that cleverly disguised commonly known items under alias, but related, names. We are so proud of our students who competed in the tech challenge event!

Sihana Alaj stated, "Throughout the entire school year I had looked forward to ITF. This year was my first time attending this event and it did not disappoint. I had a great time spending the week with all my friends while participating in workshops, performing competition pieces, and watching great shows with one another. The main highlights of my trip was the ASL workshop; this workshop introduced the importance of body language and tone when not only speaking ASL, but as well as in your acting performance. Another highlight to this trip was the show Lend Me a Tenor which had left me wheezing in pain from laughing so hard. Overall this trip was an amazing experience and the highlight of my year and I cannot wait for next year!!"


Arcadio Torres, "ITF is the one event a year everyone always talks about and looks forward to. This year was my second year attending, and it was such a good experience. The highlight I'd say would be when I saw Lend Me a Tenor. It was one of the best shows I've ever seen, and it was hilarious. Being surrounded by so many people who share the same interest as me is also a great thing because it allows me to connect with new people. ITF has been amazing for 2 years, and I'm looking forward to going back in the future."


Lastly, our Troup got to meet and talk to the legendary songwriter and playwright Joe Iconis who is famous for musicals such as Be More Chill and Love in Hate Nation. As a collective it is safe to say that his song “I Love Play Rehearsal” is our favorite. As an inspiration to many young thespians it was an honor to meet Mr. Iconis and thank him for the wonderful work he has done.


Overall, it was an exhilarating educational theatrical experience. We would like to thank everyone who made it possible and for all the continued support we receive from Hoboken Public Schools.


Hoboken High School students had so much to say about the The International Thespian Festival 2023 in Indiana: 


Gabriel Rivas said, "For my first time ever being at the ITF festival, I can say it was one of the best experiences I have ever had. There are so many people there from all over the country that come to this festival and overall have a great time. My favorite part of the festival is definitely being able to see other school shows that they have done. My favorite shows are in between Lend Me a Tenor and The Mystery of Edwin Drood. There are also workshops at the festival that make this event more enjoyable. One workshop I went to was an improv workshop. I was able to learn a lot about improv and really the reason people love it so much. ITF is such a wonderful place and I am glad I was able to attend this year. I hope that next year will be even better!"


Alana Rivas stated, "I thoroughly enjoyed my week at the International Thespians Festival. From the endless amounts of helpful workshops to the wildly impressive Main Stage and Chapter Select performances it was an exciting week. My favorite workshop had to be Exploring Intention Through Sign Language, in which participants learned how to interpret and portray ASL phrases with varying emotions. This allowed me to make connections with my own acting and inspired me to make more meaningful choices onstage. I had a blast at ITF this year and I can't wait to take the lessons I've learned into next year's competition!"


Shai Warshawsky said, "My week at ITF is something I look forward to the entire year. It gives me incredible opportunities to learn something new through not only the workshops, but also to indulge in shows performed by other schools and observe their talent so I can grow as an actor. The workshops provide me with specific chances to learn about topics taught by professionals that I’d never be able to learn from regularly. For example, I really enjoyed the Exploring Intention Through Sign Language workshop, where I not only learned many ASL signs but also how to convey emotions while signing. This helped me understand the importance that physical body movements and facial expressions have when trying to portray a feeling to an audience. ITF also allows us to display our own performances, and give us the chance to show what we can do to other schools. Overall, I have such a good time at ITF, watching shows and being surrounded by a welcoming community of people who all enjoy the same things as I do, and I look forward to hopefully going next year."


Halie Benway stated, "All year all the high school thespians ever talk about is going to ITF. ITF not only gives us the chance to get a taste of life outside of Hoboken but also gives us the chance to meet new schools, watch amazing Main Stage performances, and showcase our own talents. One of my favorite moments at ITF was when we saw a MainStage show called Lend Me a Tenor. By far it was the funniest show we had ever watched. We were cackling in our seats from the perfect comedic timing. Another memory I will never forget is when we all go out for our annual dinner to reflect on the year. We’re a very tight knit group who are all about jokes and making each other laugh, but this one night out allows us to truly thank everyone for everything they have done and show a more emotional and compassionate side to our group. The Chapters Select plays at ITF are also amazing to watch. Not only did we get to watch other chapter selects but we also got to perform our own chapter select and represent the state of New Jersey for the second year in a row. We all love performing and storytelling and ITF makes that all possible. With me now going into my senior year I only have one more year left at ITF and I intend to make it the most memorable one yet!


Anthony Barahona said, "As someone who enjoys the true beauty of drama, and its theatrical components, being able to see fellow high schoolers get on the stage to perform in front of hundreds is my favorite part of the experience. Seeing the diversity and the talent of others inspires me to work on my own acting. My favorite show would have to be Lend Me a Tenor, the comedy and chemistry of the cast was top notch and inspires me to reach their level and expand beyond. ITF is a lifetime experience, and I’m glad I get to experience it with the people I love the most."


Kendall McDonough stated, "ITF is truly one of the best weeks of the year. I love being surrounded in such a comforting and loving community. I loved having the opportunity to take fun workshops where we learn different dance combinations. My favorite part is always the Main Stage shows and this year my favorite was Lend Me a Tenor. We got to sit in the front row for this delightfully funny production where the whole theater was laughing throughout the whole show. Performing our Chapter Select was also a great experience. I am forever grateful for this week and can’t wait for next year!"


Naomi Cooke said, "ITF this year was a great and unique experience that I am so lucky I got to be a part of. Theater is a platform that can change perspectives but also bring joy to so many, and ITF gives a place for theater students to share their talent and message. It was so much fun spending time with my group and taking workshops with them, learning dances or just learning improv. It really connects people and is an opportunity that is so unique, especially when working with actual professionals. I really can’t explain how powerful it is to watch teenagers put on a Broadway level musical production. I have learned so much from just one week, and I can’t wait to come back next year!"


Riddhi Damani said, "ITF is the one thing everyone in the theatre department looks forward to the most and it ALWAYS lives up to the hype. As it was my second year going, I thought I knew what was in store but gosh was this year even better than the last! No matter what time of day it was, there was always something to do, from knot tying classes to extravagant dancing courses there were a range of activities for anyone and everyone! My favorite part had to be taking workshops with my friends as I was learning new things while at the same time having a ton of fun! So sad that next year is my last year at ITF!."


Miguel Cabelin stated, "I absolutely loved watching the performances, one act plays, and being able to see how other schools just like us interpret and perform material that is out there in the world for theater people like us to grab hold of. Each school illustrates their own unique understanding of it through acting, direction, and creativity. Being able to stand alongside such expressive and ingenuitive human beings is truly such a privilege and I can’t thank our theater educators enough for giving us this once in a lifetime opportunity!"

Lucas Daly said, "I’ve been looking forward to ITF for years, hearing all about it from the older Hoboken HS kids. My experience was absolutely incredible! One of my favorite days was watching back-to-back performances, one that had me sobbing, and the next that had me hysterically laughing. I also just loved the overall environment at ITF, it felt really artsy and supportive. Lots of people in small groups rehearsing songs and their one-acts. A personal highlight was the Tech Olympics - getting to practice light rigging was a first for me, I don’t normally get to experience what happens backstage to make a show happen! Thanks so much to everyone who supported this trip. Already excited for next year!"


Daniel Weintraub stated, "I do a lot at this school. Between debate, student council, volleyball, and plenty more it can be hard for anything to stand out. ITF remains one of the highlights of my year. Not only is it an opportunity to nurture my skills and explore new areas of theater, but it allows me to meet talented and passionate people from all over the world, spend more time bonding with the members of our own troupe, and witness truly inspiring theater - selected as the best out of countless schools around the world. Two of my favorite parts from ITF this year were the show Lend Me a Tenor which was not only hilarious and well written and executed flawlessly and a workshop exploring how to approach all forms of stage intimacy in a manner that is safe and effective."


The International Thespian Excellence Awards

The International Thespian Excellence Awards (Thespys) is a multi-round competition that provides standards-based feedback on individual, duet, and group musical and non-musical events, technical events, and short film events.

The International Thespian Festival 

The International Thespian Festival brings together the best performances, top teaching artists, and premier colleges and universities for a community-centered experience like no other. Plus, with daily surprises and special Broadway and Hollywood celebrity appearances

Students can participate in one-of-a-kind workshops highlighting every theatre interest:

  • Dozens of acclaimed performances, all created especially for virtual audiences
  • Audition and compete for scholarships with more than 60 colleges and universities
  • Showcase your talent in the Thespy® Awards program, earning valuable recognition and feedback.
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