November 4, 2019
By KEITH RYAN CARTWRIGHT
Rutherford County Schools
Samantha Dedrick was six years old when her mother enrolled her in a summer acting workshop.
A year later, Dedrick went back to the Nashville Children’s Theatre.
A decade later, the 16-year-old admits discovering her passion for theater was “kind of an accident.” However, the sophomore at Stewarts Creeks High School knows precisely the moment she realized theater was a career she wanted to pursue.
“Last year, when I first got to high school and started working with Mr. (Donald) Fann,” Dedrick said. “He showed me that theater can be more than just a hobby.”
He’s an experienced instructor with a standout resume.
Fann has been the theater director since the school opened in 2013.
In 2016, he was selected as the Tennessee Governor’s School for the Arts Teacher of the Year. He previously served for 19 years as Executive Director of the Arts Center of Cannon County, where he founded the Grammy Award winning record label Spring Fed Records.
Dedrick is, perhaps, his most gifted student.
She was selected for All-County in Acting, Musical Theater and Technical Theater each of the past two years and, according to Fann, Dedrick is “the only student in the county to do that.”
Dedrick will be performing as part of the third annual All-County Theater Showcase on Nov. 5 in the Blackman High School auditorium at 6:30 p.m. Theater students from throughout the district took part in an audition in October and the top students were selected for All County Honors.
There are 56 students from nine high schools performing short excerpts, while Blackman High will perform “Spoon River Anthology.”
“It’s really gratifying because theater is so subjective,” said Dedrick, after being selected for the all-county performance for a second year in a row, “and I see my directors every single day in class, so I know what they think of me and I know their opinions about how I perform, but to have feedback from those educators who actually work at colleges, it’s really gratifying to know that I’m on the right path.”
Dedrick will be performing the same monologue she recited for last week’s audition.
Even though it’s an individual performance and she’s been working on it for the past couple months, Dedrick said the energy of Tuesday night’s audience will influence the performance.
“Everyone sort of has a plan for how they’re going to perform their monologue,” said Dedrick, who added the energy “definitely changes the way you feel.”
That feeling is what continues to draw Dedrick back to the theater.
She loves seeing the reaction of an audience and knowing that her performance and choices as an actress “can manipulate their emotions.”
That was never more apparent than it was last year during a performance of “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time,” when she played the lead role of a 15-year-old boy with Asperger’s.
They earned first place from the Tennessee Theater Association in the one-act competition and Dedrick won best actress for the role.
More importantly, it was the reaction to her performance and, later, their response to the truthfulness of the character that meant the most.
“Being able to do that even as a high schooler — make people feel good about what they saw — was really just an amazing moment for me,” Dedrick said.
She later added, “Throughout the rehearsal process is when I feel myself grow as an actor and as a person. That’s what makes me feel good about what I’m doing. The truly wonderful part is being on stage and feeling an audience’s energy and knowing that you are telling this story.”
Dedrick plans to continue acting into college.
Getting an education is also important and although she’s still considering where she might apply, Dedrick is contemplating a double-major in order to choose something in addition to theater.
“Performance is my passion,” Dedrick concluded. “I know that being a working actor is not the most realistic of job choices, but it can be done. Working with Mr. Fann has shown me that there are so many opportunities.”