More than 500 high school students and community theatre enthusiasts will travel to Columbus to participate in the annual statewide theatre festival and convention being held at Mississippi University for Women Jan. 11-14.

This unique festival, hosted by the Mississippi Theatre Association and The W, brings theatres from around the state to perform their one-act productions, to learn more about theatre and how to improve theatre arts in the respective theatres. 

High schools throughout the state have been rehearsing plays since September in hopes of placing in the regional competitions and then advancing to the State Festival. High schools that were awarded a Distinguished Play Award at the North and South regional festivals held in December advanced to the State Festival. The schools advancing to the State Festival include Biloxi High School, Brandon High School, Ocean Springs High School, Oak Grove High School, Picayune High School, Clinton High School, Jackson Preparatory School, Northwest Rankin High School, Oxford High School and Power APAC. High school productions will be held Friday, Jan. 12, at The W in Whitfield Hall, Rent Auditorium. The top two winners of the MTA Festival advance to the Southeastern Theatre Conference.

Community Theatres from around the state also participate in the State Theatre Festival in hopes of advancing to the regional Southeastern Theatre Conference. Community Theatres performing include Corinth Theatre Arts, Just Over The Rainbow Theatre, Starkville Community Theatre, The Center Player, Tupelo Community Theatre and WINGS Performing Arts. Community Theatre productions begin Friday afternoon, Jan. 12 and run through Saturday evening.

Additionally, MTA sponsors a Theatre for Youth Festival on Jan. 12 at Cook Elementary. The Theatre for Youth Festival is geared toward youth audiences and includes both community theatre and community college groups performing.

This year’s lineup includes Dramatic Harmonies, Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College – Perkinston, Oak Grove High School, Ocean Springs High School, Power APAC and WINGS Performing Arts. Schools from throughout the region will be bussed in to see these productions. The Theatre for Youth Festival is open and free to the public.

The keynote speaker for the conference will be Robert "RJ" Haddy. Haddy is a special effects artist and airbrush dealer. He is best known as a contestant on season 2 of Syfy's reality television game show, “Face Off” in which he was a finalist and fan favorite for the season. He returned as a veteran contestant on season 5 of “Face Off,” but was eliminated in episode 5.

The full schedule will be available by the end of December on the MTA’s website. General admission ticket for the secondary and community theatre productions will be available at the door. Prices are $25 for all 15 productions; $15 for all productions on one day, and $5 for a block of plays.

MTA is sponsored in part by grants from the Mississippi Arts Commission, a state agency, and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency. For more information, visit the MTA website at or contact Stacy Howell, executive director of the Mississippi Theatre Association, at (601) 201-9564 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Dec. 12, 2017

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