Students in the UND Department of Theatre Arts are constantly looking for ways to challenge themselves and learn new skills. This is what liberal arts students do, and these students do an amazing job of it.
Every year, thousands of college theatre students come together for the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF), in Lincoln, Nebraska, for a week of sharing their performances, experiences, and knowledge gained in the last year.
The festival is about more than just performing for their peers however, as students also compete for scholarships, learn new techniques, and connect with folks from across the region.
Each year, a select few students are nominated for scholarship opportunities. The Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship competition is a big event for nominated students from Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, and Nebraska, with students selected from universities across the region.
Jackie O'Neil, who was a nominee this year, and she had also attended KCACTF last year to perform 'My Gen.' Along with her performing partner Joe Busey, they advanced to the semi final round for the scholarship and competed against 64 other nominees. "It was an incredible experience to advance to the Semi Final round, it wouldn't have been possible without my Coaches and my awesome scene partner Joe Bussey. It gave me a really great confidence boost knowing that the judges saw something in Joe and I that helped us advance against 250+ other fantastic nominees," said O'Neil. "It was a great example of how theatre is not just about performing as an individual, it's about your ability to connect (on or offstage) with others and adapt to any situation a director may throw at you."
"The theatre students that went to KCACTF last week represented UND well," says Emily Cherry, Co-Chair and professor in the Theatre Department.
"They showed strong performances and did excellent work," said Cherry.
There are seven to ten shows that are invited to perform at the festival, and all are invited to attend performances. Emily Cherry was invited to present a scene from Three Days of Rain that she directed in the fall semester (2013). The actors in that scene were Nick McConnel, Brett Olson and Emily Wirkus. Brett Olson and Emily Wirkus also auditioned and were accepted into the Musical Theatre Intensive.
This festival is filled with many opportunities for theatre students, such as attending workshops, viewing other student-performed shows, creating connections, and various competitions and scholarships. All of these events can help prepare them for their future career theatre.
Each student is then evaluated by a director of their school and a representative from KCACTF. Students are evaluated on their performance ability, as well as worth ethic and growth.
Arts & Sciences
Tired students return from a productive week at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival