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Tigard girl takes Shakespeare to nationals

Samantha Thomas will head to New York City later this month for the National Shakespeare Competition
by: Jennifer Clampet, BOOMING 
PERFORMANCE — Tigard High sophomore Samantha Thomas stands in front of her mother, Darla, in their Tigard home.

TIGARD - Whenever Tigard High sophomore Samantha Thomas would begin to pace throughout her house, the words of Shakespeare echoing in her head, her mother Darla simply asked for her to keep it down.

But when the monologue came to an end and Lady Macbeth screamed for relief, Samantha never held back.

And that's probably why the 16-year-old is on her way to the National Shakespeare Competition in New York City later this month.

'She definitely came in and wanted to win,' said Tigard High language arts instructor Matthew Wilson of Samantha's performance at the school-level competition.

She had to perform a Shakespearean monologue. She chose Lady Macbeth from Act I, Scene 5 in which the character is talking to the gods and asking them to turn her into a man so she can kill the king.

At state competition, Samantha's commitment to her piece drew one comment from a judge 'not to give that girl a knife,' Darla said.

Still, Samantha's win at the school and state competitions came as a surprise to many and even shocked Samantha.

The Tigard High sophomore described herself as the youngest girl at the state competition and seemed like the only nervous performer back stage. At state competition, Samantha also had to read a sonnet. Since most sonnets are 'foofy,' as she put it, Samantha saw her monologue as being in stark contrast. In the judges' notes, Samantha recognized that the judges liked the contrast to show her depth as an actress.

Still, Samantha expects to be intimidated at the national competition where most of her fellow contestants will likely be juniors or seniors in high school.

She will travel across the country by herself on an all-expenses paid trip. She jokes with her mother that maybe she'll be discovered. Samantha, an employee at a Cold Stone ice cream shop, draws a comparison between herself and the actress from 'Hairspray,' Nikki Blonsky, who was also working at a Cold Stone shop when she got her starring role.

Aside from some performances with the Twality Middle School theater group, Samantha has not done any theater since she came to Tigard High. With school and extracurricular activities, Samantha said she keeps missing auditions for the Tigard High plays.

For the Shakespeare competition, she motivated herself, learned her monologue in two days and found her own way to scream her emotions into the piece. Despite the wall-shaking rehearsals Samantha performed in her own living room, Darla said she never realized that Samantha would go this far.

Samantha shies away from talking about a future in acting. She's realistic. She knows that acting is a risky business. She's more interested in pursuing a nursing degree.

'Drama's good,' said Darla. 'But Samantha has bigger things she wants to do.'