A man-eating plant helped a pair of Pratt High School Forensics students capture sixth place and a medal at the state 4-A Forensics tournament in Topeka Saturday.
Walking away with the sixth place finish were duet-acting teammates Brittnee Hill and Sam Eastes.
The pair broke into semifinals and finals with a cutting from "Little Shop of Horrors" the story of a man-eating plant that wants to take over the world.
Eastes also broke into semifinals with his serious solo "Charles Chaplin an autobiography." He took eighth overall and just missed the top six in finals.
Also breaking into semi finals was Adele Loomis with her original oration "One Glyph at a Time." Her effort earned her a tenth place finish overall.
For senior Sam Eastes, his final year in forensics was his best. He had been in forensics all four years of high school and this was the first time he had broken into semi finals and finals.
Eastes and Hill had been in the musical "Little Shop of Horrors" and worked opposite each other in lead roles. They both loved the show and changing it into a duet-acting piece allowed them to continue it into forensics.
Forensics coach Rose Beilman helped cut the piece, a musical, then Eastes and Hill worked together on the timing and bringing all the characters to life, Eastes said.
They had previously worked together in "High School Musical" as well.
"It was great to work with Brittnee. She is so talented," Eastes said.
It was a unique challenge to do a speaking version of a musical. The pair incorporated some singing in the piece and did some clever movements to bring the plant "Audrey II" to life.
For his serious solo that broke into semi-finals, Eastes chose the autobiography of Charlie Chaplin. Eastes said he loved Chaplin and silent films. He got some help with the movement from Krista Wilson, a local dance coach, to help him with some of the movement in the silent film portions.
Eastes liked acting at a young age and was in his first play in the seventh grade. He likes interacting with people in forensics plus getting to bring the characters in his pieces to life.
"I like the strong bond with the people in forensics," Eastes said.
Hill is a junior and in her second year of forensics. When Beilman bought up the idea of her working with Eastes, Hill jumped at the chance.
Hill said she would be back her senior year and perhaps work on a serious solo or even work with another duet partner.
She enjoys the competition of forensics. It gives her a chance to act and compete at the same time. Forensics is harder then acting because forensics has no stage, props, no costumes and judges are right in front of the actor, hill said.
Loomis brought a piece that examined courageous journalism and how it had exposed corrupt government and crimes against women.
Loomis said she chose the topic because she had an interest in journalism and it was different from what judges usually saw at tournaments.
Loomis, a junior, is in her second year of forensics. It has provided her with a chance to express herself and get more comfortable as a performer. It's also fun.
She plans to return and will probably do another oration.
She enjoyed her time and state and learned some valuable lessons.
"State teaches you how skilled you can be and how to become a better speaker," Loomis said.
Beilman is very proud of all her students. She took a young team to state, only three seniors in the group, but they all put out a great effort.
"They worked their hearts out. It's great to see the level of commitment to communicate. That is so rewarding," Beilman said. "It was exciting to get to state. They are amazingly competitive. It is a symbol of their dedication and hard work."
With 48 members on the entire team and only three seniors, this is a building year and things look bright for the PHS forensics team next year.
Pratt took 17 students to state championships in 16 events. Helping lead the group was senior Anna Stotts who qualified for state in three events but chose her informative piece.
"She has been hardworking through all four years in forensics," Beilman said.
Helping coach this year were Chris Lyman and Kyle Farmer. The team learned a lot from these coaches.
All the students had a great attitude and worked hard to get to state. Each had to place first or second in a tournament during the season to qualify for state, Beilman said.
Overall, the Pratt team placed twelfth (up from eighteenth last year) out of 49 teams at state. The 4-A Forensics Championship has the most teams of any division in the state.
Brittnee Hill-duet acting Adele Loomis-oration
Anna Stotts-informative Miranda Flemming-oration Joseph Loomis-oration Courtney Blankenship-oration
Sidney Harrison-Informative and serious solo
Katie Buhler-informative, Spencer Sullivan-informative
Quiana Pico-serious solo Cole Fincham-duet acting Evan Fowler-duet acting Garrett Johnston-IDA Dustin McGraw-IDA
Chloe Cannata-oration and prose
Lauren Voss and Delaney Skaggs-IDA
Lauren Beardsley Humorous solo
Anna Stryker and Zach Stone-IDA