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Northwest Missouri State University


Student Spotlight

Northwest theater students recently performed at the Region 5 Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Helen Strotman, second from right, took first place in Directing of Concert Reading.

Northwest theater students recently performed at the Region 5 Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Helen Strotman, second from right, took first place in Directing of Concert Reading. (Photo by Darren Whitley/University Relations)

Feb. 17, 2014

Northwest students earn high marks at annual theater festival

Twelve Northwest Missouri State University theater students spent the week of Jan. 19-25 demonstrating their skills and competing with peers at the Region 5 Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF) at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film.

More than 1,500 college students presented work at the festival. Northwest students presented more than 25 projects in a variety of areas, including acting, design, playwriting, stage management and theater technology.

Helen Strotman, a senior theater and English major from Lincoln, Neb., took first place in Directing of Concert Reading for a presentation of the 10-minute play “Man’s Best Friend,” by Southwest Minnesota State University student Joshua R. Johnson.

The 10-minute play event serves as a forum to help new playwrights develop their work, and the play readings are the culmination of a process that begins with a blind adjudication. Each play is assigned a student director and a faculty mentor who work closely with the playwright to revise and explore the work. The reading is then rehearsed for three hours, performed and given a response from festival guests.

Jessica Johannes, a junior technical theater and design major from Parkville, received second place in the Regional Lighting Design category for her lighting of Northwest’s Lab Series production of “Neighborhood 3: Requisition of Doom” last October. Johannes used a unique combination of lighting and colors to transform the performance space into a video game world.

Additionally, two pairs of Northwest students were among 64 performance duos who advanced from a field of 350 to the semifinal round of the Irene Ryan Scholarship Auditions. The auditions consist of two two-person scenes and a single monologue presented in no more than six minutes. Representing Northwest in the semifinal round, were Eli Purdom, a senior theater performance major from Independence, partnered with Strotman; and Lindsay Masin, a 2013 Northwest graduate, partnered with Fred Vogel, a sophomore speech and theater education major from Lincoln, Neb. 

Two Northwest students also advanced to the final round of the musical theatre intensive contest; Tony Pulford, a senior theater from Independence, advanced in the musical scene category, and Dominique Fulton, a junior theater performance major from St. Louis, advanced in the dance category. 

Amanda Petefish-Schrag, associate professor of theatre performance at Northwest, and her husband, Ben Schrag, received a meritorious achievement award for writing the book and lyrics of “Death Comes for Jesse James,” which premiered at Northwest last year.

The festival gives Northwest students opportunities to network with theater students and professionals from throughout the country while gaining unbiased feedback of their performances and set designs. The festival is a highlight is an annual highlight of the academic year for the Northwest students.

Students are chosen to compete and participate in events at the festival based on application materials they submit during a competitive selection process.

In addition to presenting work and competing, festival participants have opportunities to take 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, who is a member of the KCACTF festival advisory board and served as professional audition coordinator at this year’s event, said the festival is an opportunity for growth and development. Participating students also build connections for future jobs and collaborations.

“The festival was a great success for our students again this year,” Petefish-Schrag said. “The opportunity to have their work showcased and reviewed by peers and professionals from across the country is really invaluable, as is the opportunity for the students to engage in ongoing discussions on trends in the field – discussions that allow them to add their voice to the development of the American theater.”


For more information, please contact:

Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
mhorn@nwmissouri.edu | 660.562.1704 | Fax: 660.562.1900

Northwest Missouri State University
215 Administration Building | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468