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Jan. 26, 2012
Twenty-five Northwest Missouri State University theater students spent the week of Jan. 15-21 attending the Region 5 Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF) at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa, and returned with a batch of honors in the areas of directing, design, acting and stage work.
Three Northwest students received regional design and technology awards handed out Jan. 19 for projects entered in the KCACTF Design Expo, which featured about 280 projects by students throughout the region. Tony Pulford (sophomore theatre major from Independence) received a Focal Press Award for student design in addition to a first-place award for “Oedipus Rex” in the allied crafts category. Nicholas Relic (senior theatre major with a technical and design emphasis from Kansas City, Mo.) placed second in costume design and Delaney McKenzie (senior theatre major with a technical and design emphasis from Lee’s Summit) placed first in lighting design. Relic and McKenzie completed their designs for “A Midsummer Night's Dream.”
Additionally, students Erika Baker (senior theatre major from Cameron) and Matt Sweeten (junior theatre performance major from Lee’s Summit) advanced from a pool of 299 nominated actors to the semifinal round of the Irene Ryan Scholarship audition. The semifinal round represents the top 60 actors in the region.
Three students were cast for faculty-directed scenes and 10-minute plays produced at the festival. Those students were Dominique Fulton (junior theatre major from St. Louis), Eli Purdom (sophomore theatre performance major from Independence) and Pulford.
Amanda Petefish-Schrag, assistant professor of communication, theatre and languages at Northwest, said the annual festival offers numerous learning opportunities for students, including classes and workshops taught by theater faculty and professionals from throughout the country. Students view productions presented by their peers in addition to having their own performances critiqued by industry professionals who work in the stage, television and film industry.
Petefish-Schrag said the festival is a tremendous opportunity for growth and development as well as a chance for students to build connections for future jobs and collaborations.
“It’s always exciting to watch their excitement for the process,” she said. “The Northwest students get up early each morning to get to the events they want to participate in and often are still up seeing shows and participating at events until one in the morning. They really take it upon themselves to get everything they can from the opportunity.”
At the festival, Baker presented her 10-minute play “Figures,” an abstract piece depicting a man who struggles with his loneliness by creating a figure with whom he can interact. The figure, however, is not what he’d hoped, and in the end he destroys his creation and resorts back to loneliness.
Baker’s script was one of six selected from 94 submissions and performed as a concert reading during the festival.
“It was pretty amazing and very surreal to see my words come to life on the stage,” Baker said. “It was also surprisingly nerve-wracking – putting something you have worked so hard on out in the universe like that is scary.”
In addition to presenting her play and competing for the Irene Ryan Scholarship, Baker said she attended the festival to expand her knowledge of theater. After graduating from Northwest, Baker hopes to relocate to a large city and work in the theater industry by teaching, acting and writing. One of her long-term goals is to own a production company that focuses on producing new work through collaboration.
“This festival is an unbelievable learning experience for students going into this field,” she said. “The key is to be really involved and to take advantage of as many opportunities as possible. I made a lot of great connections, which is the main way you find jobs in this industry, and I learned a lot about myself and my abilities.”
Students are chosen to compete at the festival based on application materials they submit during a competitive selection process. Among other events in which Northwest students competed:
Said Petefish-Schrag, “We are extremely proud of our students. Not only did they perform well in their various events, they conducted themselves with professionalism and integrity throughout the festival. They took advantage of opportunities to connect with other artists and learn from each person they encountered.”
Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
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Northwest Missouri State University
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