Theatre festival a fabulous experience

By Molly Conrad – Staff Writer

“After a long and fun week of theatre, it’s always hard to come back to the pile of homework,” Brooke Schelly said. Schelly was one of the 22 theatre students who experienced Lincoln, Neb. instead of the first week of classes.

The SAU Theatre Department returned from their annual week-long trip to the regional Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF).  The festival includes students from schools all over the region – Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas and Nebraska.

Each year, invited productions from regional schools transport their shows to be viewed by festival participants, industry professionals give workshops, and students from all different areas of theatre have the opportunity to participate in competitions and performances.

This year, more students represented SAU than ever before. Twenty-two SAU students and two alumni theatre participants were involved in a wide variety of activities.

After each mainstage show, a KCACTF respondent provides the cast and crew with constructive feedback, as well as choosing two nominees for the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship competition, to be held at the annual festival.  Nominees choose a partner and prepare two contrasting scenes and a monologue to serve as their audition set.

SAU’s nominees this year were as follow: Brooke Schelly (with partner Sam Jones) and Molly Conrad (with partner Stephanie Seward ’13) nominated from Eurydice, Tim Stompanato ’13 (with partner Chris Galvan) nominated from Chicago, and Jackson Green (with partner Amelia Fischer) and Jonathan Johnson (with partner Jordan McGinnis) for Spamalot.

For only the second time, SAU participated in the Devised Theatre showings at KCACTF.  Devised theatre is a collaborative work in which a group of actors work together to portray an idea through movement, speech and music. This year’s group consisted of Robert Poston, Brooke Schelly, Zachary Meyer, Liz Phillips, Rachael Pribulsky, Paige Allen, Kelci Eaton, Austin Eiben ’13 and Conor Strandquist.

The Musical Theatre Initiative is a competition that began last year, giving students the opportunity to showcase their Musical Theatre skills and experiences.  From schools across the region, 60 acts audition for 20 spots in a cabaret to be performed at the festival – one SAU act was chosen this year, featuring Chris Galvan, Stacy Phipps, and Jordan McGinnis performing “Make Me Happy” from the musical The Wild Party.

Michael Byrne participated in the National Critics’ Institute and wrote reviews of the fully mounted plays performed at the Festival as well as participating in group workshops.

Meghan McLaughlin  participated in the Theatre Management Intensive, a program designed to improve skills in theatre management and administration.

Auditions are held at the festival for 10-minute plays; Conor Strandquist represented SAU as a cast member.

Amanda Zweibohmer, Zachary Meyer, Jackson Green and Allie Stecklein participated as SAU’s Tech Team in the technical tag team to-do that is Tech Team Showdown.

Shannon Rourke took part in the Stage Management Experience, a program designed to evaluate and develop skills in student stage managers.

“I learned so much about stage management,” Rourke said. “It was an experience I don’t think I could have gotten anywhere else.”

Outside of the specific competitions and programs, students attended productions and workshops to learn through observation and hands-on experience. Schelly spoke very highly of her time at KCACTF.

“I’d rather be back at KCACTF,” Schelly said. Unfortunately for her, it’s time to hit the books until next year.

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