If you’re not initiated into the theatre world, you may not have heard of KCACTF (Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival) or as the theater kids like to call it, festival. Bethel students have an opportunity to go to this festival every year, and many who go find it to be a ton of fun and a huge learning experience. The festival’s areas range from acting, design and even musical theatre.
Stephen White was one student that was able to go on the trip. He was a part of the Musical Theatre Intensive. In this program, students auditioned with over 80 students from schools around the region. 20 were chosen as finalists, and one was chosen as the regional representative at the national level. The finalists worked with musical theatre professionals on their audition pieces, which they then performed at a cabaret at the end of the week-long festival.As White puts his experience, “After the audition people said that they enjoyed mine, and I’m like, well we will see how it goes… later that night when I received the news that I made it, I was shocked.” White then went on to the finals and performed his song again, the judges offered him feedback and encouragement. He left feeling inspired and proud as he left the stage. He loved the entire week, but he said that his favorite part was actually the audition itself. “I was able to see the potential that was being displayed,” said White. Rebecca Rickaby was another attendee, and ended up winning a scholarship to the Stagecraft Institute of Las Vegas “(It felt) amazing, it felt like all of my hard work paid off,” she said. “I was very, very excited and surprised as well! I was not expecting it at all!” As part of the award, Rickaby received a scholarship that allows her to go to the Stagecraft Institute of Las Vegas for a week. She plans on spending her summer doing that. As for the acting area of the festival, I talked to Sidney Sprunger, who competed for the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship. Each year, schools nominate students for outstanding performances. These nominees work in teams. “You do two scenes and a monologue,” Sprunger said. She was able to work and act with her roommate Kayla Rundquist. When it came to the audition itself, Sprunger was nervous. “(I was) freaking out, because whenever you act (they’re) judging you and literally just you because that is what you’re presenting,” she said. “I definitely didn’t want them to just rip me apart. They didn’t, but it still terrified me.” Sprunger and Rundquist weren’t able to advance, but with only twenty-five acts moving on out of three hundred, your odds aren’t very good. Still, Sprunger said she got very good feedback and felt good about the process overall. Performing isn’t all the festival is about. I talked to Erin Scott, who presented her stage management for “To Kill a Mockingbird.” “Stage management consists of keeping the show running, and being in charge of rehearsals,” said Scott. “I presented my process and my philosophy on stage management to a professional stage manager at the festival.” One of the major aspects of festival are the shows. Each year, shows are selected from various schools around the region to be presented at KCACTF. Bethel’s recent production of “Godspell” was on the table to be selected, but it didn’t get enough votes. Johan Godwaldt is one of the co-chair members and has been involved with festival since 1984. He works with the students that participate with festival and gives them feedback and helpful tips when it comes to acting and theatre in general. “Sometimes people don’t get it,” said Godwaldt. “They don’t really understand the purpose of festival. It is a celebration, a celebration of theatre.” That celebration just reached its 50th anniversary this year, and Bethel takes advantage of it each year. Time will tell what impact the students have in future years.