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Kodiak High School Shakesbears Dominate in Anchorage

At the final state-qualifying Drama, Debate, and Forensics (DDF) tournament of the season, hosted at Anchorage’s Service High School this past weekend, the Kodiak High School Drama Team, the Shakesbears, coached by Jared Griffin, made a bold statement to the rest of their region.

The Shakesbears took home seven 1st place awards, five 2nd place awards, three 3rd place awards, and two 5th place awards. Additionally, the Shakesbears swept two events, winning the top three places in Solo Acting and Humorous Interpretation.

Solo Acting: Maryssa Abston (1st), Julianna Jones (2nd), Wetherleigh Griffin (3rd).

Humorous Interpretation: Felix Lewis (1st), Acacia Birbilas (2nd), Alli Hartt (3rd).

Dramatic Interpretation: Felix Lewis (1st), Acacia Birbilas (2nd), Tayla Eaton (5th).

Duo Interpretation: Wetherleigh Griffin and Acacia Birbilas (1st), Alli Hartt and Julianna Jones (3rd).

Duet Acting: Maryssa Abston and Wetherleigh Griffin (1st)

Original Oratory: Felix Lewis (1st)

Extemporaneous Commentary: Sara Scott (2nd)

Readers Theatre: Shakesbears’ teams won 1st, 2nd, and 5th places.

On winning her very first 1st place in an acting category, Abston said, “It was empowering.”

In all, the Shakesbears entered nine events, including a pantomime by Gracie Thomas and Devina Melin, and sent finalists to eight events, winning place in each event. In addition to the event sweeps, senior Felix Lewis placed first in each event he entered.

Fifteen schools from around southcentral Alaska were represented at the Service DDF tournament. Kodiak sent a total of 17 pieces to the final round in their events, twice as many as the next closest school, Homer, which sent nine pieces. Kodiak placed third or higher with 15 of their pieces, more than any other school.

Some Shakesbears were voted by their fellow competitors to give Command Performances at the awards ceremony. Lewis and Birbilas performed their Reader’s Theatre “Romeo, You Idiot”; Birbilas and Griffin performed their Duo Interpretation of “For Your Consideration: Keanu Reeves”; Alli Hartt performed her Humorous Interpretation of Christopher Durang’s “The Funeral Parlor”.

Lewis was also nominated by the other schools’ coaches to perform his Original Oratory “Gay Panic Defense.”

Lewis said, “I was extremely honored that they found my piece compelling. I’m glad that they received my message and resonated with it.”

Because of the Shakesbears’ success this season, they are sending all 14 members of the team to the state competition in multiple events:

Maryssa Abston (Solo, Duet); Acacia Birbilas (DI, Duo, RT); Tayla Eaton (RT); Wetherleigh Griffin (Solo, Duet, Duo); Alli Hartt (HI, Duo, RT); Julianna Jones (Solo, Duo, RT); Serabella Jones (OO, ExComm, RT); Felix Lewis (HI, OO, RT); Audrey Lonheim (Duet, RT); Devina Melin (Mime, RT); Derek Rocheleau (DI, OO, RT); Sara Scott (ExComm): Krista Simpler (HI, Duet); Gracie Thomas (Mime).

The ASAA State DDF Competition will take place in Juneau on Feb. 13-15. Lewis will be defending his state title in Humorous Interpretation.

At the beginning of the season, the Shakesbears were ranked 6th in the state. They are now ranked #3 in the state, and ranked #9 in their national district, Western Washington. Several Shakesbears are ranked in the top 10 drama competitors in the state.

As the Shakesbears president, Griffin said about bringing this team to the state competition: “It’s going to be awesome. This is the most dynamic team, with such good chemistry. We have a very diverse spread of talent, with our informational speakers, improvisational actors, and dramatic and monologue performers. “

Abston added: “Our team is dynamite.”