Theatre Simpson students spent the week of Jan. 17 attending the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF) in Ames, Iowa. Participants spent their days attending auditions and workshops, learning tips to better themselves in singing, make-up and technical aspects of the art.
KCACTF prides itself on the fact that they provide opportunities for students to work on their theater talent and also give their participant’s feedback. It is a production that offers participants a chance to show off their creative talent while getting ideas from fellow artists.
Although a good opportunity, it’s different from putting on a production at Simpson.
“The biggest difference is that there are a lot of different activities to participate in,” senior Katie Rooney said. “You can view shows from other schools that have been invited to perform at the festival, which is a great opportunity to see other people’s work. It’s nice to be able to sit back and enjoy a show for once instead of working on a show for others to enjoy.”
Junior Meghan Vosberg attended KCACTF for three years in a row. Each time she has received a nomination for the Irene Ryan Scholarship.
“With every play Simpson College puts on, a respondent comes to one of the performances and reviews it,” Vosberg said. “With the acting part, the respondent chooses the actor they thought did best, or whose work showed through, or just a favorite character and nominates them for the Irene Ryan Scholarship. Two Irene Ryan nominees are (chosen) from each show. Eight nominees will be representing Simpson College.”
The scholarship was created by Irene Ryan, the actress who played Granny on the Beverly Hillbillies.
“She didn’t have any relatives, so she left over a million dollars to fund the Irene Ryan Foundation, which donates scholarships to young artists at the national Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival,” Vosberg said.
Along with the Irene Ryan Scholarship auditions, KCACTF offers the Barbizon Awards for Theatrical Excellence, Summer Stock Auditions, the Inge Festival Scholarship Scene Auditions and the Mehrom Makeup Design Award. Over 100 schools are involved in the Region V section of the weeklong festival.
Rooney looked forward to being an Irene Ryan partner and the events of KCACTF.
“There are always a lot of really awesome designs,” Rooney said. “(Also) getting to see the Irene Ryan finals because there are always a lot of interesting scenes done by really talented students. And of course, missing a week of classes.”
Senior Emily Ledger won the second place national award for KCACTF Sound Design Excellence for the October production of “Betrayal.” The designers for productions are required to enter their designs into either the regional or national categories. There are typically one or two respondents for each area who help choose the national winners.
“My respondents for sound were from University of New Mexico and Penn State University,” Ledger said. “The respondents walked through all the designs on Wednesday night, and 10 minute response sessions were scheduled for Thursday.”
Ledger was pleasantly surprised when she was told she had received second place.
“For ‘Betrayal,’ I chose songs that would set the mood for each scene,” Ledger said. “I chose very carefully, often editing them to start at a certain place in the music. It was my favorite sound design at Theatre Simpson because I had the most time to devote on the project, and I did most of the editing myself.”
Theatre Simpson was well represented at KCACTF yet again this year. Theatre Simpson now shifts its focus to their production of Eurydice to be performed March 25-27.