Students from two San Fernando Valley high schools walked away with a total of four first-place honors at an annual drama competition last weekend, earning the right to participate in a special Hollywood showcase next month.
At the Drama Teachers Assn. of Southern California's annual fall festival held Saturday in El Monte, students from Cleveland High School in Reseda won three first-place awards for best comedic scene, best original scene and best scene from a play published between 1880 and 1945.
"I love it," said 17-year-old Cleveland senior Alan Loayza, who has competed since junior high school in seven consecutive festivals, winning a total of four first-place honors. "I love going back to it."
Loayza, who said he hopes to make a career as a film actor, portrayed Peter Pan in a five-minute scene during Saturday's event. Students were not allowed to use props or wear costumes so he made do with green jeans. "No tights," he quipped.
Chatsworth High School senior Mike Benson, 17, staged a 10-minute condensed version of "The Crucible" with six student actors, capturing first place in the group dramatic category.
"The scene was really tight," he explained. "It was really together."
Eddie Alvarado, 16, who played tormented adulterer John Proctor in Benson's production, said it was an enjoyable experience despite having to perform many times through rounds of competition.
"It teaches you what it's really going to be like when you finally get out into the real world," he said.
About 1,500 students from nearly 60 Southern California schools participated in this year's event. The first-place winners are invited to perform their scenes at Paramount Studios in Hollywood on Nov. 14 before an audience that will include professional agents and managers.
"We're just going to go out there and have fun with it," Alvarado said.