Sequoyah All-Stars Take the Spotlight

Second left, front: Senior Zane Durham 

Sixth from the left, center: Senior Jace Nichols 

Seventh from the left, center: Junior Randy Miller 

The cast and crew of “The Diviners” pose for a picture at the GHSA AAAAAA theatre competition. Their abridged performance of the play earned them second place. (Photo from Angie Miller)

Second left, front: Senior Zane Durham Sixth from the left, center: Senior Jace Nichols Seventh from the left, center: Junior Randy Miller The cast and crew of “The Diviners” pose for a picture at the GHSA AAAAAA theatre competition. Their abridged performance of the play earned them second place. (Photo from Angie Miller)

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The Georgia High School State Association AAAA division One-Act-Play contest gathers some of the most talented high school thespians in the state for the chance to perform before a learned audience and be named to the prestigious All-Star Cast. Sequoyah’s production of “The Diviners,” a drama set in the Midwest during the Great Depression, placed second at this year’s meet. 

Seniors Jace Nichols and Zane Durham, and junior Randall Miller earned a spot on the All-Star Cast; Miller took home the title of “Best State Actor.”   

The road to state was not an easy one. Sequoyah’s production of “The Diviners” had to win first place at region to even be eligible. Preparations for the production were intense. Durham, Miller, and Nichols made concerted efforts to portray their characters as genuinely as possible.  

Nichols recalls practice that extended far beyond late-night rehearsals for his role as Buddy Layman, a young man struggling with brain damage and a fear of water due to an accident from his childhood which killed his mother.   

I would get into character long before rehearsal and stay in it after we were finished,” Nichols said. “This specific role required me to find a new way of thinking, speaking, and moving.” 

After winning the region division, “The Diviners” was entered into the state level AAAAAA competition. According to the actors, this performance differs from a typical production in that it is abridged and judged by professionals trained in theater.  

Miller, who played former preacher CC Showers in the production, says the atmosphere on stage is different as well. 

“How serious every moment in the show is and how important every word fluctuation is to properly express an emotion [are different],” Miller said. 

The performance, however nerve-wracking, ended up earning Sequoyah a second-place spot in the state competition; Nichols, Durham, and Miller walked away with spots on the All-Star Cast. It is a moment they all consider memorable for different reasons. 

For Durham, who played Buddy’s father Ferris, the award came as a bit of a shock.  

“I honestly sat there for a moment before realizing that I was the one they called, then I jumped up and ran over to the stage,” Durham said. 

Nichols, similarly, valued the recognition.  

“I was so honored and humbled that my devotion to the role was seen and felt by others,” Nichols said. 

For Miller, who earned the additional title of “Best State Actor,” receiving the reward after all his hard work was particularly fulfilling. He recognizes the important role that others played in carrying out his performance. 

 “I was able to prepare for this performance and perform it in the way I did due to my directors giving me so much support throughout this entire show,” Miller said. “What made being CC Showers so incredibly easy was being able to have such an amazing Buddy to be with me; Jace Nichols was absolutely magnificent in what he did and helped me become this character.” 

Overall, the actors think they will fondly remember the experience. For Durham, it was especially bittersweet.  

“This performance was special mainly because it was my last fall play, so I decided to give it my all,” said Durham.  

For Nichols, his favorite part about acting is stepping into the life of another character. This is what makes acting so unforgettable for him.  

 “Through learning how to be [a character], you learn more about yourself and your limits than you could’ve otherwise,” Nichols said. “Buddy [was] all of that and more; my entire being was devoted to portraying and honoring him in the best way I could.” 

As for Miller, he was simply glad to see his passion appreciated by other theater students. 

“[The award] made me feel like I had been recognized for my effort, and that my character was truly making a difference,” Miller said.