ESU Theatre will travel South Dakota to participate in the 51st meeting of the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. KCACTF is a national theatre program involving 18,000 students from colleges and universities nationwide. This year, Region V — representing Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota and North Dakota — meets from Jan. 20 to 26 in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
KCACTF honors excellence of overall production and offers student artists individual recognition through awards and scholarships in playwriting, acting, criticism, directing, and design. ESU Theatre is taking 26 students along with five faculty members to participate in this year’s festival. The students will be participating in the technical theatre design showcase, the Irene Ryan scholarship auditions, the musical theatre intensive, stage crew showdown, directing scenes, the stage management fellowship and the playwriting program.
The Irene Ryan Acting Scholarships provide recognition, honor, and financial assistance to outstanding student performers wishing to pursue further education. The Irene Ryan Foundation awards eight regional scholarships and one national scholarship annually. This year’s nominees from ESU include, Torin Horvik (Fargo, North Dakota), Mollie McClanahan (Topeka), Rachel Muirhead (Hays), Andrew Ralston (Topeka), Matthew Mahr (Overland Park), Hewleek McKoy (Olathe), Elizabeth Tate (Sand Springs, Oklahoma) and Jack Greenwood (Valley Center).
Both Mahr (lighting) and Ralston (costumes) have entered their designs for “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.” Mahr will also enter his scenic design for “Steel Magnolias.” The technical theatre showcase provides student designers, technicians, managers and dramaturgs the opportunity to showcase their work at the regional festival and receive feedback from professionals working in the field.
ESU Theatre has also entered a team into the Stage Crew Showdown. In this competitive event, a team of six students compete in several timed events that a stage crew would perform during the run or build of a show. These events include scene shifts, costume quick changes, light hang border tie and knot tying. ESU is the current holder of the spirit award and hopes to bring home both the spirit award and the Golden Wrench trophy this year.
The costumes for “Pippin,” designed by Susie Williams, assistant professor of costume design, have been selected for the costume parade. The costume parade highlights the closing ceremony each year at the festival. Selection to the costume parade is a high honor and highly coveted by designers in the region. Other ESU faculty members will provide workshops, coach the student participants and coordinate summer theatre auditions at the festival.
Since its inception, KCACTF has given more than 400,000 college theater students the opportunity to have their work critiqued, improve their dramatic skills and receive national recognition for excellence. More than 16 million theatergoers have attended approximately 10,000 festival productions nationwide.