This past week, the Northern State University Theatre department headed out for KCACTF in Des Moines, Iowa, for a solid week of pure, no-holds-barred theatre.
This festival, the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, is an annual event that glorifies and celebrates every aspect of theatre. There are 8 regions and Northern State’s region, Region 5, consists of the upper/middle Midwest and is also the largest region in the US. The week long festival consists of endless competitions, workshops, and network-building activities for students to participate in. These competitions cover every facet of theatre from acting and singing, dancing, playwrighting, directing, dramaturgy, and many more.
This year, Northern had the honor of sending four theatre students compete in what are known as the Irene Ryan Awards, named for the famed actress of the show The Beverly Hillbillies. This acting competition pits the best actors each college has to offer against one another in order to win the available scholarships. Scholarships are available at the regional, as well as the national, level.
The students who competed from Northern were Christine Powers, Haley Hubbard, Taylor Bogue, and Seth Honerman. While none of them made it on past the preliminary rounds, the experience of performing for such an audience that this competition imparts is invaluable to all who compete.
Although no one moved on in the Irene Ryan’s, another competition at KCACTF, the Student Directed Scenes Showcase, proved to be quite a different story.
Seth Honerman put together a scene from Carol Churchill’s play, Love and Information, and made it all the way to the final round of the competition. This is the first time in the history of Northern that anyone attending KCACTF has made it into the final round of any of the difficult competitions.
Honorman and his actors, Tyler Lanam, Shelby Glover, John Cassens, Joshua Hinkemeyer, and Christine Powers, began rehearsing this scene about a month ago after Christmas break ended. Clearly their hard-work over the past month was worth the effort!
The other main attraction at the festival is the myriad of workshops that are offered by professionals and professors from all over the country. These workshops range from lighting and design to improvisation to choreography and everything in-between.
There was even a workshop called Drag 101, which was so well received that there is talk of doing a student drag show during next year’s festival.
Beyond the competitions and workshops, the most beneficial aspect of this festival is the ability for students to network. Networking is an incredibly important part of landing a job or gig after graduation. Giving students these sorts of opportunities to help them succeed post-Northern is something that will come to benefit participants in the years to come.