Theatre Festival provides acting opportunities for students

by Mallory Higgins

Junior Becca Jackson had one chance to nail an audition for one of nine companies for a summer acting job. She wants to be part of Summer Stock, a professional summer theater.

Jackson auditioned for Summer Stock at the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival, which 20 students and seven faculty and staff members from the theatre department attended Jan. 16-22 in St. Louis, Mo.

Jackson has attended the festival three times, and she said it has been a great experience every time.

“This festival was so much fun,” Jackson said. “It really is a celebration of all the hard work that has been accomplished in our region throughout the past year.”

Simpson is in region five of eight regions that hold theater festivals.

“Having a festival like this is just so amazing because it is cool to get together with students from other schools and celebrate this art,” Jackson said.

Jackson also said the festival gives her something to look forward to other than performances at Simpson.

“When you do a play at school, you work so hard and then it’s over in three days,” Jackson said. “But going to this festival is just another thing to work for and have a good time at.”

Jackson said four students including herself competed for the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship.

According to the KCACTF national Web site, the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship includes 19 regional scholarships for $500, two $2,500 scholarships for the national winners and a student-judged scholarship worth $250 for the best partner.

Ann Woldt, a lecturer of acting, voice and movement, and Jennifer Nostrala, professor of theatre arts, were preliminary judges for this competition.

“It was very interesting to see acts from different schools,” Woldt said.

Woldt said Simpson is very committed to the KCACTF. She said one reason for Simpson’s involvement is that Tom Woldt, associate professor of theatre arts, is vice chair for the eight-state region Iowa belongs to.

Ann Woldt said this festival is not only fun for students, but also for their professors.

“This festival is a time for me to see old friends that I only see once a year,” she said. “I also like to go to a lot of the workshops offered because then I can bring back new and exciting things to do with my students.”

Woldt said she was very happy for all of her students, including junior Sarah Harriman and senior Mandy Peters.

“Sarah Harriman won second place in a competition for make-up design,” she said. “Her designs were absolutely beautiful, even compared to graduate students work. Mandy Peters won the dramaturgy competition for the work she did for ‘The Trojan Women.’ Mandy worked very hard on what she did and she deserved to win.”

Ann Woldt said every year is a new experience.

“Everyone that attends this festival learns so much, they take a lot away from it,” she said. “It’s worth the trip because the connections the students make are wonderful.”

Jackson hopes to make a connection either at Highland Summer Theatre in Mankato, MN, or Horsefeathers and Applesauce in Winfield, KS, the two companies she got called back from in the Summer Stock program.

“I will hopefully know by March if I received a job from one of these two companies,” Jackson said. “I’m just waiting and keeping my fingers crossed right now.”