The Crater High School Renaissance Academy Drama Department rehearses the play they will perform in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August. Bob Pennell / Mail Tribune - Bob Pennell

Crater students invited to Scotland

Crater High School Renaissance Academy drama students will perform in Scotland's capital city in August at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, but they're giving the Rogue Valley a preview performance four evenings starting Friday.

The drama troupe from the school in Central Point was selected out of 1,728 schools to perform an original work — a play they wrote — as part of the festival's high school program. Eleven students and eight chaperones will go on the trip from Aug. 3 through Aug. 16.

Their original play, "Spirit Soaring," has been an evolving project since Crater drama director Matthew Reynolds was informed of the honor last year by the American High School Theatre Festival, said Cil Stengal, a member of the Rogue Valley's Hamazons comedy improvisation troupe who helped students write the play.

"A lot of it was developed through improvisation, and I put it in theatrical form," Stengal said.

The play is a collection of personal stories about issues real teenagers in Central Point have faced and how to escape the darkness brought on by depression and other life problems.

In one scene, girls commiserate about the social pressures they feel to look beautiful, be successful and accommodate others.

Festival participants were nominated and then chosen based on the quality of recent performances, technical ability, recommendations, overall dramatic excellence, honors and awards, philosophy and community-building, said Reynolds. Judges saw interviews of Reynolds and students, as well as a short clip from their performance of the 1953 Broadway musical, "Kiss Me, Kate," by Cole Porter.

Crater students will spend two weeks in Scotland and England and will perform four times at the festival, Reynolds said.

Every August, artists from all over the world gather in Edinburgh and perform on stages found everywhere from city parks to churches. The festival includes more than 1,800 different performances of music, theater, dance and comedy during its three-week run.

"It's been my lifelong dream to perform overseas," said Mat Bostrom, who graduated from Crater last year. "It feels unreal."

The trip costs $108,000 for all 19 people, and students have raised about $48,000 of that, he said.

Students will tour London and Edinburgh, focusing on historically significant theater sites such as Shakespeare's reconstructed Globe Theater in London.

Reach reporter Paris Achen at 541-776-4459 or e-mail

Correction: Dates of the performances have been corrected in this story.

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