Campus News

Bethel students take the stage at KCACTF

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While most would say that they participate in the arts simply for the love of it, that doesn't mean that a little healthy competition isn't also involved. One of the ways in which those involved with theater can stretch their wings and embrace in a bit of competition is through a national program known as the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF).
Theatre students prepare to watch the Irene Ryan acting competition at KCACTF.
Photo Credit: Bethel College Department of Theatre
  Now, what exactly is KCACTF? I interviewed Kayla Rundquist, a sophomore double majoring in theater and English for writing, on her time at the festival, and she shared just what exactly the event is. "The Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival is a collection of 1500 college students from different schools,” said Rundquist. They all come together and they do different competitions in theater but they also go to workshops; so if you're not participating in any competitions you go to these workshops that different theater professionals are teaching. Those workshops are all different aspects of theater: acting, design, directing, (and) stage management.” I asked Rundquist what her specific role in the festival was and about her success in one of the competitions. "I participated in the musical theater intensive,” she said, “which was a program where you auditioned the first day with a song and then throughout the week we worked with these two musical theater professionals to improve the song." Rundquist went on, "the other thing I did was Irene Ryan Acting Scholar competition which is where 300 people get nominated throughout the year for different schools, and they'll come perform a few acting scenes. Then around 40 of those people will move onto the semi-finals and I was one chosen to move on to those semi-finals.” I was interested to know what it was that Rundquist performed at the festival that got her to the semi-finals. "I had three scenes,” she said. “I did a monologue from a show called "Fat Men in Skirts," I did a scene from the show I'm doing called "Like Watchmen" and then the last one I did was from a Neil Simon show," Rundquist shared. Rundquist actually wrote "Like Watchmen" herself, and the show is currently being produced by the theater department. Along with Rundquist’s moving onto the semi-finals of a regional competition, there was another student from Bethel who took the awards stage at KCACTF. Theater major Alex Price rose high within the festival, and he was able to share a bit about the process involved in his specific competition. "I participated in the 10-minute play festival, which was part of the new playwriting program,” said Price. “So there were 150 applicants throughout the region that submitted 10-minute plays and then they narrowed it down to a top 6. Then there were directors who were selected to direct, then they narrowed us down to a top 6. Then we worked alongside with playwrights to get the show ready for a staged reading. Then we auditioned 83 people and then I picked a cast of 5. We then rehearsed the show, which was "The Real Deal” by Maddie Deacon, and performed it in about three days.” Price went on, “Afterwards we had response sessions with three professional directors. They'd give us feedback on what we did well, what we should work on and after that they decided who should win the Best Director award.” Price himself was the individual the directors chose as the winner of the Best Director Award. The theater department makes the trip to KCACTF every year, so we’ll have to wait until next year to see if the students can take the awards stage again.
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