La Salle Thespians Earn First Place in State, Advance to International Competition


Ashley Hawkins

Junior Ashley Nelson and senior Will Clem took home winning titles over the weekend for their work in theatrical makeup design and scenic design, respectively.

Lillian Paugh, Editor

On Saturday, April 15, two members of La Salle’s International Thespian Society (ITS) chapter made history in Salem at the Oregon Thespian State Festival as the first La Salle students to ever advance to international competition.

At the event, junior Ashley Nelson, who competed in makeup design and received two perfect scores, and senior Will Clem, who competed in scenic design and earned one perfect score, both won in their division for their respective categories, launching both of them into the lineup for the international thespian competition to be held at the University of Indiana in June. 

“It was definitely a surprise,” Nelson said. “I figured we’d do good, but I didn’t know that we would win.”

Being able to travel to Salem and actually present their work in front of a small group of judges, Nelson said, gave her the opportunity to see exactly what she was up against, finding herself intimidated by a couple of her opponents — and by the fact that she was only one of two students from La Salle among the groups of tens and twenties from other schools.

Clem also expressed similar feelings in heading to state, saying that he was unsure of how they would do going into it. “I was hoping, of course, that we would do well,” he said. “But I was like, ‘I don’t know, this is against everybody in the state.’” However, in seeing how well the both of them placed the day before, after presenting their portfolios, the wins did not come as a surprise to him when he heard the news at the closing ceremonies on Saturday.

With the wins — particularly because they are first-time wins for La Salle — Clem thinks it is “a great step forward for the [theater] program,” and he hopes that it will encourage other students to enter and compete in events like the past weekend’s in the future.

“Now that we’ve proven that this is something we can do,” Clem said, “hopefully it will gather more interest in both the theater department and in the ITS community.”

Looking ahead to June, Nelson expressed her enthusiasm — as well as her nervousness — in being able to see and be challenged by the advanced work she expects to come in from students around the world. “I’m sure the competition is going to be much heavier, [and] I’m going to be bringing a lot bigger, more advanced pieces,” she said. “So I’m intimidated, but I’m really excited.”

Clem also expressed excitement in seeing the competition this summer, but he’s also anxiously looking forward to both him and Nelson having the opportunity to use their portfolios as a way to display the effort that the La Salle theater department has put in recently to a wider audience of people, and he said that “just being able to show that to more people,” is something he is enthusiastic about.