As part of a famed tradition for St. Ambrose University, a handful of students sponsored by amazingly generous friends of the department packed their bags and embarked on a journey to Des Moines, Iowa, for the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF) Region 5 celebration.
With so many workshops, intensives, invited productions, and competitions to participate in, each of these theatre makers certainly had plenty to do in order to keep themselves busy throughout the week. Each of these students not only had fun in their respective activities but also got to learn from the many opportunities provided in each event that KCACTF had to offer. Amazingly, in addition to having fun and learning valuable theatre information, many St. Ambrose students received accolades in their competitions, and as a department, we could not be more proud of these students.
To start the week off strong, seniors Jackson Green and Hannah Donovan, junior Kendall McKasson, and first-year Anthony Duckett participated in the Stage Crew Showdown. With speed and proficiency, these students had fast enough qualifying times in events such as knot-tying, curtain-hanging, and prop setting to advance to the final round of the competition. These students, who named their team "The Star Techies," were cheered on by their fellow St. Ambrose peers and ended up winning the coveted Golden C-wrench Trophy.
Additionally, one of the final round judges was so impressed by these students' technical abilities that his company will be sending the team an additional prize! While that exact prize still remains unknown, something that is known is that the Star Techies worked extremely hard in preparation for this competition, and are truly deserving of the success they have achieved.
Of course, Donovan's triumph did not stop there. She submitted a portrait of William Shakespeare (Willy Shakes) that she painted for last season's production of The Complete Works of Shakespeare (Abridged) (Revised) into the Design Expo at the festival. After being evaluated by a panel of judges, this portrait was deemed worthy of an award from the Stagecraft Institute of Las Vegas, and Donovan won a one week, all-expense paid trip to Las Vegas for a summer seminar.
Additionally, Donovan earned first place in the Stage Management competition, beating out a pool of 30 other competitors. So, in addition to going to Las Vegas, Donovan will also be spending a week in April at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. for the national round of the Stage Management competition. We are so incredibly proud of her, and we wish her the best of luck when she competes at the Kennedy Center in April.
To keep going down this trail of triumph, a handful of St. Ambrose students had success in the Irene Ryan acting competition this year. Seniors Megan Clarke, Brian Leibforth, and Sam Jones all advanced to the semi-final round of the competition, with Jones advancing to the final round. In the finals, Jones and his partner Keenan Odenkirk from Augustana College in Rock Island impressed judges and placed third overall. Jones also was awarded the Classical Acting Award at the festival's closing ceremonies. We are so proud of Jones and each and every one of our Irene Ryan participants, and we have loved getting to see the hard work and dedication they put into each of their respective pieces.
Continuing with acting awards, three of our participating students found success when they performed in professional auditions. Seniors Leibforth, Clarke, and Odenkirk all received multiple callbacks after their auditions, including callbacks from the prestigious Stella Adler Studio of Acting in New York City. While we are still eagerly awaiting to hear the results of their callbacks, we are sending Brian, Megan, and Keenan our unconditional support.
Last but certainly not least, Leibforth and Jones had additional success in the Society of Directors and Choreography (SDC) competition this year. Leibforth directed a scene from Stupid F*cking Bird by Aaron Posner with his cast - senior Christian Colmenares, junior Sarah Goodall, sophomores Jessica Karolczak and TJ Green, and first-years Tyler Hughes and Luke Peterson - helping him advance to the final round of the competition. Jones directed a scene from A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams, with his cast of Jackson Green, Clarke, and senior Kelci Eaton, which also moved on to the final round of competition. We are extremely proud of the hard work they put in and their accomplishments within the competition.
All in all, KCACTF Region V, Festival 50 was a success for everyone who attended. While not everyone may have placed first in their respective competitions, the lessons and skills learned through feedback and workshops make the trip more than worthwhile. For now, we will celebrate the successes achieved at KCACTF 50, but come next winter, our eyes will be focused on achieving similar success at KCACTF 51.