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Students Take Honors from Regional Theatre Festival

The Emporia State University Theatre program was well-represented at Festival 52 of the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, Region V. The gathering was held in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, the week of Jan. 19 through 25.

The festival celebrates the best of university theatre in the seven-state region (Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota and Minnesota) during the 2019 calendar year. ESU entered four associate productions into the festival: “Steel Magnolias,” “Romeo and Juliet,” “Little Women” and “The House of Blue Leaves.” Each production received a response from a member of the festival during the 2019 calendar year.

From these productions, eight students were selected to compete in the Irene Ryan acting scholarship audition in Sioux Falls. These eight students were Hannah Hendricks, Hannah Lingard, Ryan Wollum, Mollie McClanahan, Jasmine Hall, Allison Jones, Olivia Nunnelley, and Mariah Trible. They competed against 330 students for a $2000 scholarship and a week-long intensive at the Kennedy Center. Jimmy Nguyen from Drake University was selected for the national festival at the Kennedy Center in April.

At the conclusion of the Friday evening performance at the festival, the annual Region V Costume parade showed the talents of costumers in the region. ESU Costume Designer and assistant professor Susie J. Williams had her costumes from “Romeo & Juliet” showcased, one of only 12 productions selected for the event at the festival.

Other ESU performers at the festival included Ben Johnson and Dayne Sabatos who were among the performers in the third annual festival drag show on Tuesday night. Senior Mariah Trible and Sophomore Jasmine Hall were selected for the festival improv troupe that performed on Friday afternoon at the festival.

Isabelle Nelson was featured in the cast of “Columba,” a 10-minute play performance. She was cast on Monday, rehearsed throughout the week and performed on Thursday. Senior Brian Percival directed “Changing Hats,” another 10-minute play. These plays, written by students in the region, were a highlight of the festival.

Throughout this week students also competed in craft and design competitions, participated in workshops, and performed in productions. Many students also brought designs from shows in costumes, lighting, and scenery to compete in the design expo and were given feedback from expert respondents.

At the end of the week the awards ceremony recognized outstanding achievement in every field. ESU students collected numerous awards:

  • Maddie Simmons, was named winner of National Allied Design and Technology for her costume work in “Romeo & Juliet.” She will spend a week at the Sante Fe Opera in August.
  • Mollie McClanahan, was the runner-up of National Allied Design and Technology for her costume work in “Romeo & Juliet.”
  • Mollie was also the runner-up for the National Costume Design for her costumes for “The House of Blue Leaves.”
  • Riley Jack Greenwood was the runner-up in the Institute for Theatre Journalism and Advocacy.
  • Cameron Webb was the winner of Individual Tech Projects for his work in building a prop piano for “Little Women.”
  • Along with these awards students Jared Steele and Lucas Coble were selected for their design projects to attend a one week intensive in Las Vegas.

Twenty-three students and six faculty members attended the festival. Next year, Festival 53 will be held in Des Moines, Iowa, where ESU Theatre students expect to have another good showing.