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FHS students attend Governor’s School

If “All the world’s a stage,” as William Shakespeare said, two Farragut High School students are about to increase their knowledge of both the actual stage and Shakespeare’s theoretic one.

Rising FHS seniors Niran “Jani” Radhakrishnan and Taylor Helmboldt have been chosen from more than 250 applicants to fill two of the available 20 slots in the 2008 Tennessee Governor’s School for the Arts this summer.

Jani and Taylor auditioned for the program in January and were recently notified of their selection.

Lee McMahan, who teaches both students drama at FHS, said the auditions for the program consist of two contrasting monologues; a comedic and a dramatic piece.

They also had to participate in an interview with theatre adjudicators to determine their interests, commitment, habits, plans, ambitions, maturity and general knowledge of theatre.

Jani said, “I did a piece from ‘The Diviners’ and the other piece was from ‘Praying for Rain.’ Then we had to do this dancing, movement-type thing, which is kind of hard because I do not dance. Then there was an optional song piece, but I didn’t do that.”

Jani first fell in love with the stage in kindergarten.

“I was in the ‘Elves and the Shoemaker’ and I was the narrator. Then I got really involved in middle school.

Taylor too realized he had an affinity for acting at an early age.

“As a kid I did a few summer programs and then I got into music a little bit and got into chorus. Then in eighth grade, at West Valley, I did ‘Guys and Dolls’ and that kind of got me hooked. So when I got [to FHS], I did the spring musical my freshman year and then from there just got more and more involved with the drama department,” he said.

Both students have been heavily involved with the drama department at FHS. Jani has been cast in “Fools,” “Peter Pan,” “Judy Moody,” “Taming of the Shrew” and “Oklahoma!”

Taylor has been cast in “The Importance of Being Earnest,” “Into the Woods” and “Fools” and has played leading parts as Count Dracula in “Dracula,” the beast in “Beauty and the Beast,” Brian in “Praying for Rain,” Peter in “Peter Pan” and Judd in “Oklahoma!”

Both Taylor and Jani expect Governor’s School to help them round out their stage presence.

Janie said, “I want to gain a lot of experience. I have heard that it is a great place to meet new people and get really great contacts for college. I really want to strengthen my dramatic skills. Right now I can only do comedic and can’t do drama at all, so I really want to have an even balance.”

Taylor said, “I want to learn. I feel like it is an opportunity to become more well-rounded and to learn all the different aspects of it.

“I do not feel limited here, but I feel like it is a new venue. It is another way to get out there and have some more experience not in a high school setting,” he added.

Although Jani does not intend to pursue theatre as a career, she said she plans to continue acting as a hobby.

“I want to get more involved with [community theatre] and I think once I do Governor’s School I will have more of a balance so I can do more community plays.

When asked if he planned to pursue theatre after high school, Taylor said, “Absolutely,” but as far as his plans for where he plans to study theater in college, he said right now all he knows is that he wants to go “somewhere urban.”

Jani and Taylor will begin the program the week of Monday, June 9, at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro and will return Friday, July 11.

Taylor was last seen on stage Friday, June 6, and Saturday, June 7, as Jean Valjean in SKIT Production’s presentation of “Les Miserables” at Pellissippi State Technical Community College’s Performing Arts Center.


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