What Is NJDFL?

The incredible bonds that I have created through this club could never be replaced and I cannot wait for next season.

IZZIE HALIM

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Photographer%3A+Jenna+Slater+24%3A%0AZuZu+Long%2C+Diya+Ramesh%2C+Zoey+Blackman+and+Ava+Connelly+accept+an+award+on+behalf+of+Eastern.

Photographer: Jenna Slater ’24: ZuZu Long, Diya Ramesh, Zoey Blackman and Ava Connelly accept an award on behalf of Eastern.

 Here at Eastern, there’s a wide range of clubs that you can get involved with if you are interested in the arts or musical theater; one of those clubs happens to be NJDFL or team theater. NJDFL stands for New Jersey Drama and Forensics League. There are eight other schools in the league, Washington Township, Northern Burlington, Mainland, Dumont, Point Pleasant Boro, Kingsway and Cedar Creek. The competition season falls in the winter months, December through February. 

  In the program, there are twelve categories, so you’re bound to find something you enjoy! If you are more interested in acting there’s dramatic pairs, classical monologue, comedic pairs,  readers theatre, improv pairs, contemporary monologue. If you are better musically, there’s a musical solo, and musical scene. However if you are more into forensics there’s impromptu speaking, dramatic oral interpretation, persuasive speaking and humorous oral interruption. 

  Competition days can be quite long; we have to get to Eastern at 7am on Saturday then we take the bus to whichever school is hosting. Once we get to the school everyone gets ready and the host school introduces themselves. After that, hour one starts, with hour two and three following. Then we have lunch and hours one through three repeat themselves. After that is finals. Last is awards and sometimes a dance party – then it’s the bus ride back to Eastern. And we do it all again next Saturday. 

  Like most sports and teams we have captains; we have four captains; ZuZu Long ’23, Ava Connelly ‘23, Zoey Blackman ‘24 and Diya Ramesh ‘24. ZuZu is our head captain currently and Zoey and Diya will be taking over when they are seniors next year. I decided to interview them to learn a little bit more about why they love the club. 

  Over the course of her time in team theater ZuZu Long ‘23, head captain, competed in a total of seven categories. She stated that her favorite category is impromptu speaking. Although Long’s favorite is impromptu speaking Blake Ilagan ‘25, general team member, said that his favorite category is dramatic monologue. Ava Connelly ‘23, senior captain, and I happen to share the same favorite category, musical scene. 

  One of the best parts of the club is definitely the bonds that you make and being able to compete in categories with your friends. Ava Connelly, senior captain, stated that her favorite memory from the season was competing in improv pairs with Zoey Blackman, one of the junior captains. Connelly stated “we designed characters named Shelby and Donald who had New York accents and somehow always incorporated them into our scene”. That’s not something that you would expect in an improv category but very cool that the two were able to do. 

  Two of my favorite memories from the season is the bus rides after the competitions and bus buddies. Bus buddies is a program where we fill out a form that says our favorite snacks and hobbies then before every competition we get paired up with someone. Then the morning of competitions you find out who your bus buddy was and get all your treats! The bus rides after the competitions we get our judges sheets back so we know why we scored the way we did, but it’s also when we turn on music and jam out the whole way back to Eastern.  

  Everyone can mutually agree that making friends from other schools is one of the best parts of being in team theater. There is something so exciting and validating to find so many people that are just like you and love something the same way you do. Reuniting with people at every competition and cheering each other on is one of the best feelings.

  NJDFL is a club where all theater kids get to express themselves through songs or speech. The incredible bonds that I have created through this club could never be replaced and I cannot wait for next season. Nobody says it better than graduating captain, ZuZu Long, “Njdfl is my favorite club, and I’m so thankful I was able to experience two full years of it, plus weird half Covid years. I’ll definitely be back to judge.”